Emergency legislation to help ministers deal with the COVID-19 pandemic has come into effect, after the Queen granted the Coronavirus Act 2020 royal assent. The 329-page bill was fast-tracked through both the Lords and the Commons in just three day. It will give ministers, councils, police, health professionals and coroners temporarily additional powers during the UK’s current lockdown, which is designed to stall the spread of the potentially deadly illness. UK or devolved ministers, for example, will now have the ability to restrict or prohibit events and gatherings during the outbreak of the virus, “in any place, vehicle, train, vessel or aircraft, any moveable structure and any offshore installations and where necessary, to close premises”. The new laws will also allow for the greater use of video hearings in court cases. The legislation, which will be in force for a two-year period, will be reviewed by MPs every six months, after No 10 relented to pressure earlier this week.