Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced that from Monday it will be illegal for citizens to step into public without a mask. He said the Government has distributed a large number of masks and many businesses are also selling them and so masks will become “part of your clothing now.”
“We ought to be masked once we are interacting with people. If we wear masks we will suppress the movement of droplets and aerosols and that should be a major contributor. Senate is meeting now concluding the legislation (Saturday). If it is passed in the Parliament this evening, it will then go through its completion process of assent and hopefully, by Monday it will be illegal to be out in a public place. Unfortunately, it has come to this.”
The Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2020 will allow the state to penalise citizens if they are caught not wearing masks in public.
The Prime Minister was speaking yesterday at a media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
He said that in September some larger countries worldwide will also have a law forcing their citizens to wear a mask publicly. He said he has also heard some people saying that poorer sections of the society cannot afford the penalty and fines for not wearing a mask and responded to this by saying that the best thing that poor people can do is to put on their masks.
The recommendations for penalties for not wearing a mask are as follows: Failure to wear a mask, the first offence will attract a penalty of $1,000; for the second offence, $2,000; and by way of third offence, $5,000.
Speaking about socially displaced people and how they will be dealt with if they have no masks, he said the authorities will “work with the situation.”
He also defined “home” as the area that a person is responsible for and if quarantined that is where they should stay if quarantined.
“If you live in an apartment complex that is what you are responsible for. And if you are supposed to be quarantined at home, that is your home. It does not mean the compound. The quarantine is about keeping you isolated.”
The Prime Minister said it took more than the Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that society must take responsibility.
Stuart Young, Minister of National Security, who also spoke, said if there was one person in a vehicle not wearing a mask the person will not be charged but if there is a family, they are encouraged to wear their masks in the vehicle.
Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram who was also present said that wearing masks by itself cannot stop the spread of the virus and people must abide by all the pubic health measures that have been put into place.