The Malta Independent 4 June 2020, Thursday

Fines for those who test positive for Coronavirus and leave isolation to increase to €10,000

Albert Galea Tuesday, 24 March 2020, 06:34 Last update: about 3 months ago

 

New legal measures related to the Superintendence of Public Health will see the fines for those who test positive for Coronavirus and do not follow the mandatory self-isolation instructions given to them by health authorites increase to 10,000.

Amendments to the Public Health Act were tabled in Parliament by Health Minister Chris Fearne on Monday to be discussed during Tuesday’s sitting.

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“Where a charge for breach of the provisions of this Act consists of a charge of a breach of any order given by the Superintendent listed in the Schedule to the Commissioner for Justice Act, the person charged shall be tried in accordance with the Commissioners for Justice Act and shall  be liable, on conviction by the Commissioner for Justice to a penalty of between 1,000 and 10,000”, the act reads.

As things were prior to this act, the fine to be imposed was of 3,000 for each time a breach is found.  A number of people have been fined under the new regulations, including a Frenchman who was found to have breached quarantine regulations five times – racking up a bill of 9,000.

The amendments add five enforcement orders to the Schedule to the Commissioners of Justice Act – these being the orders pertaining to quarantine, closure of places open to the public, closure of non-essential retail outlets and outlets providing non-essential services, suspension of organised events, and self-isolation of diagnosed persons.

The latter is borne out of the fact that a majority of people with Coronavirus have not been admitted to hospital due to their symptoms being very mild.  They are however required to remain isolated at home and are under medical observation.

The amendments aim to clarify the extent of the authority given to the Superintendent of Public Health to issue orders as she may deem necessary for the prevention or mitigation of disease, or for the prevention of spreading of infection disease in the context of a health-related emergency.

The Bill also describes what should happen when the offender is not a Maltese resident. In such cases, unless the charge is being contested, the offender must make the payment electronically, such as through a credit card or bank transfer, within 12 hours of being notified. During this period, the police shall have the power to keep the offender in detention.

The Bill clarifies the powers of the Superintendent of Public Health, stipulating that he or she can order the suspension of “any time limits including but not limited to legal or judicial time limits” which may come about as a consequence of the order for the closure of government departments or other places of public services.

The bill will go through the full process of parliament – meaning the second and third readings – on Tuesday.  This comes after an agreement was reached between the Government and the Opposition.

 

 

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