The COVID-19 pandemic has raised significant concerns for population mental health and the effective provision of mental health services in the light of increased demands and barriers to service delivery . Particular attention is being directed toward the possible neuropsychiatric sequelae of both COVID-19 and of the stringent societal mitigation steps deployed by national governments, concerns that are informed by historical increases in the incidence of psychotic disorders following influenza pandemics . However, so far there has been scant attention paid to other important areas of psychiatry during COVID-19, including medico-legal aspects and human rights. In this paper, we discuss the legal implications for psychiatry of the COVID-19 pandemic and report a novel situation in which psychiatric patients may experience diminution of their statutory protections. We believe that this represents a paradigm shift in psychiatric care and that the consideration of the fundamental rights of psychiatric patients as "less important" than infection control measures compel mental health professionals to "advocate for … patients and their caregivers" in this time of crisis .