by Linda Straker
- Legislation has verbatim section from 1947 Quarantine Act
- Sunset legislation has 15 August 2020 as date of effect
- Bill goes to Lower House on Wednesday, 29 July and to Upper House on Friday, 31 July 2020 for debate and approval
Government has proposed a 12-month sunset legislation as part of its effort to contain and control the spread of Covid-19. The legislation, among other things, provides for a maximum penalty of EC$25,000 in a magistrate’s court for any person who is found guilty of violating any section of the legislation.
The “Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) Control Bill, 2020” seeks to regulate the containment of the spread of Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) in the interests of public safety, public order, and public health and for the maintenance of a substantial portion of the community and supplies and services essential to the life of the community of the State of Grenada.
The bill which already has 15 August 2020 as the date of effect, is set to go before the House of Representatives or Lower House on Wednesday, 29 July and to the Senate or Upper House on Friday, 31 July 2020 for debate and approval.
Providing the Minister for Health with the powers to make regulation for its effective implementation, the bill seeks to empower the minister to make an order to impose requirements or restrictions in relation to, the holding of an event or gathering; seeks to empower the minister to make an order to impose prohibitions, requirements or restrictions in relation to the entry into, departure from, or location of persons in, premises and empower the minister to make an order to impose prohibitions, requirements or restrictions in relation to the manner of travel in motor vehicles.
However, all these powers provided to the Health Minister for the 12-month period “would be exercised in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer.” The legislation has become a debated subject on social media platforms.
According to the legislation which has a verbatim section from the 1947 Quarantine Act, where a public health officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is potentially infectious, the public health officer may direct the person to go immediately to a place specified in the direction which is suitable for screening and assessment; or and request a police officer to remove the person to a place suitable for screening and assessment.
For persons entering the country, the bill mandates police officers or immigration officers to take action on any person once there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is potentially infectious. “The immigration officer may direct the person to go immediately to a place specified in the direction which is suitable for screening and assessment; or remove the person to a place suitable for screening and assessment.” The legislation mandates that before exercising the powers conferred by the legislation, the law enforcement officer must consult a public health officer.
The legislation is in direct response to the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic which has infected millions and the cause of deaths of almost another million worldwide.
Spread by droplet from the mouth, the disease whose signs are mainly flu-like with loss of taste and other symptoms, was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and quickly spread throughout the world by March 2020.
Grenada has recorded 23 laboratory-confirmed cases and tested samples of more than 3,000 with just a little under 1,000 experiencing the PCR test conducted through the nostril. Others were tested using the rapid test done through blood.
Grenada has no deaths and all confirmed cases were declared as medically recovered. The last confirmed case was in late May 2020, but health officials are continuously reminding the public that there can be asymptomatic persons moving around who can pass the virus on to others.
As part of its early measures to stop the spread, government declared a state of emergency which restricted the movement of citizens.
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