Saturday 19 September, 2020

Tufton warns of $1-m fine amid breaches of self-quarantine order

Dr Christopher Tufton addresses journalists at a press conference. (File photo)

Dr Christopher Tufton addresses journalists at a press conference. (File photo)

With reports that some of the persons who have entered the country since the borders were reopened on June 1 not adhering to self quarantine measures, the government is looking to enforce the $1 million fine for persons found in breach of the established orders and protocols.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton issued the warning as he responded to questions during a recent COVID-19 press briefing.

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.

Jamaicans who have returned to the island as of June 1 must self quarantine at home for two weeks. However, there are reports that some persons have been flouting the law.

“I am prepared to say that I am not convinced that all the instructions that have been given for persons coming in have been followed to a ‘t’,” Tufton said.

He said he has received “A lot of anecdotal messages about persons seeing persons in a store, at the wharf, they just came in (from overseas) and they’ve found their way to some form of gathering of one kind or another”.

While he indicated that he does not have the hard evidence, the minister shared that he has received messages. He said he expects that there will be a margin of error as to whether every one complies with the orders. And he also noted that no particular government agency, whether it is the Jamaica Defence Force, the Constabulary or the Ministry of Health, will be able to enforce these orders “If all of us don’t recognise that we have a primary responsibility of self-regulating, of obeying the orders in our own interest and in the interest of those around us”.

“There is a fine of up to $1 million if you’re caught or six months in prison. What I would say is, we’re going to have to step up the enforcement and the vigilance to discourage it…,” Tufton warned.

Despite the warning, Tufton’s preferred approach is for Jamaicans to recognise that obeying the orders is in their best interest, that of their family and country.

Meanwhile, at least 56 persons, including six non-nationals, have tested positive for COVID-19 since the reopening of the country’s borders on June 1. The majority of the confirmed positive cases are from the United States where the virus is raging out of control in large parts of the country.

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