Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a number of enforcement measures to assist in the Government’s comprehensive national strategy in the battle against COVID-19, including new fines and the establishment of a COVID-19 Enforcement Unit.
“We will be doing everything possible to ensure that the health protocols and Emergency Orders are enforced, to limit the spread of the virus and to avoid further restrictive control measures,” Prime Minister Minnis said in a live address to the nation from the Office of the Prime Minister on Sunday 19 July.
Among the enforcement measures are fines for falsifying results of a COVID-19 test, knowingly exposing or infecting another person to the coronavirus and breaking mandatory or self-quarantine.
It will be an offence for someone to submit a falsified result of a COVID 19 diagnostic test or to undergo the test prior to their departure from The Bahamas and present the results of the test on return to The Bahamas as though the test had been carried out in another jurisdiction.
Such persons will be liable to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to two years imprisonment or both.
Where a person knows or reasonably believes that they are infected with the COVID 19 virus and causes another to be exposed or infected that person commits an offence and upon summary conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000 in respect of each person who has been exposed or infected.
It shall also be an offence for an airline or sea vessel to permit a passenger to board not wearing a face mask and without an approved travel health card from the Ministry of Health.
Upon summary conviction, the operator shall be subject to a fine of $500 in respect of each passenger in violation.
Anyone who leaves mandatory or self-quarantine before being released by the Ministry of Health will be lliable to a fine of $250.
The Prime Minister said the Royal Bahamas Police Force will continue to be responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the COVID-19 Emergency Orders through the establishment of a new Enforcement Unit.
The Unit will coordinate activities to educate and ensure that all Bahamians, residents and visitors are adhering to the enforcement protocols of the Emergency Powers Orders to keep our communities safe.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force is making final preparations for the COVID 19 Command Centre at the Cable Beach Police Station, from which all HubbCat monitors, dispatchers and COVID-19 Ambassadors will be controlled, said Prime Minister Minnis.
Across the islands of The Bahamas, the Unit will have 177 COVID-19 Ambassadors; 23 HubbCat Monitors; and 21 vehicles dedicated to this specific enforcement purposes.
The Enforcement Unit will also monitor individuals in quarantine; ensure that the general public is adhering to the COVID-19 Orders; ensure that business establishments are adhering to the COVID-19 Orders; and monitor beaches and parks.
As of Sunday 19 July, there were a total of 153 confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded by the Ministry of Health. There were 49 active cases, 91 recovered cases and two hospitalized cases.
“Our current situation demands decisive action, if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus,” said the Prime Minister.
“We cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun. Many priorities must be balanced, be they health, social and economic. Chief amongst these though is health. We cannot risk the death of Bahamians and our residents.”