In order to respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the UK and Scottish Parliament passed emergency legislation. The various temporary laws, discussed below, have largely been extended until March 2021, when Westminster and Holyrood will vote on possible further six month extensions.

You will find detailed information about the emergency legislation here:

In July 2020, CYPCS and the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland conducted an Independent Children’s Rights Impact Assessment on laws and polices around COVID-19. Read more here.

The Scottish Government has issued impact assessments (links below) and published reports on its approach to children’s rights during COVID-19, setting out how it is addressing 11 recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child during the pandemic. Read more on Together (SACR)’s website here.

Emergency UK legislation

Coronavirus Act 2020: in force since 25.3.20, extended until 31.3.21.

For more information on the provisions in the UK Act that apply to Scotland see Clan Childlaw’s Child Law Network summary from March 2020.

Section 16 of the Act amends local authorities' assessment duties under sections 23(3) (assessment of the needs of children affected by disability) and 29(5) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (assessment of aftercare needs of care experienced young people). Local authorities are now not obliged to carry out these assessments if it is not practical or it would cause unnecessary delay in the provision of support. However, the Act does not affect the duties on local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need under section 22 and to provide aftercare services under section 29 of the 1995 Act. In addition, local authorities are not obliged to prepare a young carer statement under section 12 of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 if it is not practical or will cause unnecessary delay in the provision of support.

See the Statutory Guidance issued by Scottish Ministers: Coronavirus (COVID 19): changes to social care assessments - Statutory guidance for local authorities on sections 16 and 17 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, 8th April 2020.

Emergency Scottish Parliament legislation

Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020: in force from 7.4.20 and 27.5.20 respectively initially until 30.9.20, extended until 31.3.20, and can be extended again but not beyond 30.9.21.

Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020:

Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020: 

  • Makes changes to help public services continue during the coronavirus pandemic and provisions include changes to student tenancies and the criminal justice system and the introduction of a Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement for carers aged 16 or over.
  • Following pressure from CYPCS and others, the Parliament agreed to amend The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 to prevent the criminalisation of 16 and 17 year olds via Fixed Penalty Notices for breaching lockdown restrictions.
  • Read the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment

Secondary legislation:

Go to Scottish Government Coronavirus Guidance 

See CELCIS' Covid-19 Coronavirus Information Point for Children's Care and Protection, which brings together published guidance, information and resources

This is intended as a guide to the law in Scotland as at November 2020 and not as an authoritative statement and interpretation of the law. If you have any questions or would like further information please call 0808 129 0522 or email