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Jamaica: COVID penalty crunch talks

Lawmakers will today debate the Disaster Risk Management (Amendment) Act, 2021, which, among other things, will seek to introduce a ticketing system with fines for persons who refuse to wear a mask in public spaces.

The pending law sets out a range of tier one to 10 offences, with penalties starting from a low of $3,000 to a high of $500,000.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness warned on Sunday that with the passage of the legislation, persons who refuse to wear masks in public places could be ticketed.

Masks have been promoted by public-health experts as key to curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2.

Holness said it was agreed that the amendments to the Disaster Risk Management Act would be debated and passed to empower the police to take action for breaches of the law.

The primary focus of the Disaster Risk Management Act is the mitigation of the effects of natural disasters as a result of natural or man-made hazards.

While the legislation focuses on reducing the country’s vulnerability to natural and man-made hazards, the Government is taking steps to more effectively address the enforcement of measures to rein in the pandemic.

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