Information from the Right to Remain update blog, constantly updated with news of changes to the immigration and asylum system due to Covid-19
Detention centres are now closed to visitors.
The Home Office have released 350 people from detention. The number of people held in immigration detention as of 24 March was 736 people (down from 1,225 on 1 January). Normally, there are around 2,500 people in detention at any time.
The Home Office has committed to urgently review the cases of every person currently held in immigration detention. They are starting with the most vulnerable, so it will be important to make the Home Office/healthcare services in the detention centre of any factors that make you vulnerable.
The Home Office has stopped the new detentions of people who would in normal circumstances be facing removal to one of the 49 countries to which removals are not currently taking place because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
These countries are, at the time of writing:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Austria, Bulgaria,Cameroon, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, India, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lichenstein, Lebanon, Libya, Luxembourg, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Zimbabwe.
People from these countries who the Home Office consider to be in the “high harm” category may still prior to deportation (as opposed to removal). If this detention happens, the detention will still be challengeable if there the deportation is not going to be able to happen anytime soon because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Home Office guidance issued after Detention Action began legal action against them says they will be initiating:
- Enhanced screening, identification and monitoring of those at risk or showing symptoms of Covid-19, particularly for this with underlying health conditions.
- Ensuring that persons at increased risk from Covid-19, and persons who are symptomatic, are provided with facilities to self-isolate in single-occupancy rooms and are provided with individualised care plans
- A review of cleaning practices within detention centres to ensure compliance with Public Health England guidance
- Provision of anti-bacterial cleaning materials to detainees, upon request
- The introduction of social spacing measures in communal areas
- The production of specific guidance to explain in clear terms how to reduce the risk of an outbreak of Covid-19
Earlier this week, there were reports that Brook House detention centre was in lockdown, with people unable to leave their rooms.
Bail hearings are still taking place, but not in person (not face-to-face).