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COVID-19

Parliament passes laws against COVID-19 breaches

June 4, 2021 6:30 am

People who continue to flout certain advisories and are not adhering to the COVID-19 measures will now be issued on the spot fines.

The Public Health Amendment Bill 2021 has been passed in Parliament last night after a short debate.

Offences covered under the amendment include the failure to wear an appropriate face covering and not presenting the careFIJI mobile application on entering business premises.

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It also includes the failure to comply with mandatory curfews, physical distancing requirements and capacity restrictions for gatherings, events, public service vehicles and businesses.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the amendments also act as a deterrent, dissuading people from breaching the COVID-19 restrictions.

“At the moment, the law is if I am not wearing a mask and they see me not wearing a mask they will arrest me or they will take me to the cell and lock me up. The difference now would be, once we have this penalty when you’re not wearing a mask they will write an infringement notice and you will have to go and pay a fine. The reason why we’re doing this is because we need to inculcate a behavior and ensure compliance, we need to ensure there is deterrence without causing efficiency and productivity.”

Minister for Health, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete, says the laws are critical in addressing certain issues, especially the strengthening of requirements to wear face masks.

“This legislation or policy when actually practiced on the ground is designed to respond appropriately as a whole of nation approach to the outbreak. This amendment that’s been brought in terms of ensuring that we can be able to provide fines as a deterrence is one of the most important as we seek to stop the transmission of the virus and bring this country to be COVID contained.”

Minister for Defence while contributing to the debate says the Bill is about collective security and the protection of every Fijian.

The passing of the Bill means Police officers or authorized officers can issue on the spot fines if they have reason to believe that a person has committed an offense under the amended Public Health Act.

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