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Quarantine breakers face increased fines

By Shelton Daniel

Some persons have not been complying with mandatory 14-day periods of isolation or quarantine intended to determine their COVID-19 status. This is increasing the risk that the virus will spread which in turn frustrates carefully conceived measures that have been established to contain the spread of the disease by preventing or limiting new infections.

This concern was repeated this week in the post-Cabinet briefing, where Information Minister, Melford Nicholas, addressed a recent excursion to Bird Island attended by scores of residents in search of an unrestrained party.

Nicholas said this was one of the reasons why Cabinet “has welcomed the inclusion within the task force of a special detachment of the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Police Force to assist with enforcement”.

He said he had personally “given the Cabinet an update as to where we are with regard to the bracelets that are going to be necessary to facilitate the contact tracing”.

He explained that the authorities reported being in possession of monitoring devices.

 “We did receive some prototypes a few weeks ago, but those prototypes did not meet the requirements we were looking for. Within the next 7-8 days we would be in receipt of the specific bracelets that we require; bracelets that, for all intents and purposes, are tamper-proof and will allow those persons who have been quarantined – particularly those persons who have been quarantined in their own home and in their own facilities – for the quarantine authority to be able to monitor their movements and ensure that they do not break the [quarantine] conditions.”

Nicholas then turned his attention to the Bird Island incident.

 “We have to remind the public that when we speak of the beaches being off limit [that] it’s not necessarily restricted to the island of Antigua. It also includes the beaches on the offshore islands as well, and in Barbuda. So clearly, the events that took place on Bird Island over the past week fell outside of the [state of emergency] regulations. We have to caution persons who are wont to engage in this type of illicit behavior that it is frowned upon by the authorities.”

Nicholas hinted that it is unlikely that the police will pursue the party’s organisers and attendees.

A video circulated this week captured the party which appeared to violate COVID-19 protocols.

Nicholas said, however, that the government has “asked the marine coast guard team to work along with the police force to ensure that we can curb these excesses.

He concluded with the warning that the Cabinet was entertaining the thought of revising the COVID-19 regulations to include increasing the fines for violations of the protocols. 

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