LEGISLATION aimed at protecting the public during the coronavirus pandemic has come into force in Scotland.

Members of the Scottish Parliament passed the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill on Wednesday, April 1.

Measures in the bill include increasing notice periods to six months to protect tenants in the private rental sector from eviction.

Deadlines for planning and licensing decisions have also been extended for local authorities.

And people and some small businesses that are unable to repay debts due to the virus outbreak will be able to apply for a six-month ‘breathing space’ period.

This will allow them to seek money advice and find long-term solutions to repay debts.

Keith Brown, MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, said: “The legislation empowers the Scottish Government to help protect both private and social renters from eviction during the outbreak, support businesses, consumers and public services and make adjustments to aspects of the justice system.”

He added: “[Coronavirus] is the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes and the measures we take to deal with it must reflect its magnitude.”

Most of the emergency measures in the bill will automatically expire after six months – but can be extended for a further six months on two occasions.

This means that within 18 months, the measures in the bill will no longer remain in place.

Constitution secretary Michael Russell said: “Scotland is facing an unprecedented situation.

“This emergency bill delivers necessary powers that will allow us to prioritise tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

“People across the country have responded magnificently as we work together to save lives.

“By unanimously passing this bill the parliament has ensured practical help will be given to many businesses and to people struggling financially because of the crisis.”

For more information about the bill and the measures within it, visit tinyurl.com/s94wvqs