Government prepared to use full force of the law to help contain the spread of coronavirus

Prime Minister, Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated that his administration will strictly enforce the different laws to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“The legislation gives us certain powers to act, this includes powers that would place an obligation on citizens to report, and citizens reporting is an absolutely important part of us being successful in these infectious challenges,” he said.

“The truth is that if persons hide their conditions when asked, give misleading information when asked, that can cause its own stream of negative consequences of which we would have no knowledge, and would not be able to respond,” he added.

So far, there have been 8 confirmed cases in Jamaica. But at a press conference on Friday, the Prime Minister said that there will be more cases being reported in the days to come.

Either way, he said the government will be using the laws at its disposal if necessary.

Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte, outlined what these laws are. “Section 69 of the constitution gives the cabinet an overarching power to determine policy.

Image result for marlene malahoo forte
Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte

“Section 20 of the constitution empowers the Governor-General to declare a state of public disaster. Then there is the Emergency Powers Act, the Public Health Act, which gives responsibility to the minister with responsibility for Health broad investigative powers in relation to disease, and the prevention of diseases in parishes, and to do whatever is necessary to arrest the spread of disease,” she said.

She also explained that the Public Health Act gives health officers or persons authorised in writing by the minister of health, or the local board the right to enter your premises without permission.

“This means that if there is suspicion that something is happening in your private places, the minister may authorize entry there to investigate, it requires no warrant or your permission,” she said.

In addition, the Attorney General said that food handlers, barbers, and hairdressers must not engage with customers if they are ill. In fact, she said they could lose their licenses if they do.