Mon | Nov 30, 2020

COVID-19 quarantine charges loom - Government stepping up pressure on delinquent returnees

Published:Wednesday | July 29, 2020 | 12:29 AM

Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Parliament on Tuesday that he has been informed that 50 cases of COVID-19 quarantine breaches are now under investigation and the first set of charges are expected within days.

Under the Disaster Risk Management Act, persons who refuse to follow the established orders and protocols, including curfews and stay-at-home orders that are in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus on the island, can be fined up to $1 million or six months’ imprisonment.

The prime minister said that the country’s greatest risk was the number of persons who have been placed under home quarantine.

According to Holness, thus far, some 20,000 home quarantine orders have been issued.

“I am concerned that a number of persons are not strictly observing the home quarantine order and I have asked the JCF to exercise greater vigilance and charge persons who are found to be in breach,” Holness asserted.

According to the prime minister, there is evidence that Jamaicans returning from overseas have been breaching the home quarantine orders, and gone as far as to post pictures of their outings on social media.

“All the successes we have had thus far can be undone by just one super spreader, as has been the case in many other countries,” he added.

There are 97 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, even as the total number of confirmed cases since the outbreak of the disease has now reached 855.

Holness said that the Government would have no choice but to go back into shutdown if the COVID-19 numbers had overshot the 1,092 projection of cases, even taking into account the backlog of cases.

In the meantime, Holness announced new protocols that would come into effect from August 1 to September 30.

Summer camps are being given until August 31 to operate.

Societies registered under the Friendly Societies Act, the Industrial and Providence Societies Act, and the Co-operative Societies Act are to be exempted from the restrictions on gathering when holding annual general meetings.

“If those measures are not followed faithfully, if it is that we are informed that there is not strict observations of the protocols, we will tighten the measures,” Holness warned.