PHOTO: FILE PHOTO Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton, addresses the weekly virtual COVID Conversations press conference on Thursday (November 19). Tufton said last week that the government is planning in increase penalties for Covid-19 safety violations, but the proposed penalties have not yet been made public.
KINGSTON, Jamaica–November 23rd,2020–Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says that stiffer penalties are coming for persons, who breach the coronavirus infection control restrictions, especially in the form of illegal noncompliant parties.

 

He informed JIS News that the Office of the Attorney General, the Ministries of Justice and Local Government and Rural Development, are collaborating to implement the new measures, which he said, will be in place before the end of the year.

“We expect that we will see decisions on that soon. What it will do is enforce the health and safety measures so that we ensure that persons, who breach the laws, can be held accountable,” the Minister told JIS News following a COVID-19 Youth Forum on Thursday (November 19), at the Learning Institute of Central Kingston, downtown Kingston.

He said that employing punitive measures is not the “desired approach” that the Government wants to take, but is necessary, in order to enforce the rules aimed at controlling the spread of the virus and protecting the health and welfare of Jamaicans.

Meanwhile, the Minister is imploring persons not to attend illegal parties during the upcoming festive season.

“What we want to avoid is to have a Christmas that is so merry, that we have a New Year that is dire because of outbreaks and hospitalizations. We want to find ways to give thanks for the year, enjoy family and very close friends, and at the same time, observe the protocols; that is very important,” Minister Tufton said.

Under the current Disaster Risk Management Act, persons who refuse to follow the established orders and protocols, including curfews and stay-at-home orders can be fined up to $1 million- or six-months imprisonment.

What the new, stiffer penalties will be was not explained, but if the threat of six months in prison is considered to be insufficient, the new penalties are bound to cause controversy.