Deyalsingh – New Public Health regulations coming

With the State of Emergency nearing its end, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says the government will be updating the Public Health regulations very soon.

Speaking with Guardian Media, Deyalsingh did not disclose what would change once the SoE comes to a premature end on Wednesday.

“As we always do the new regulations will be made public ASAP,” he added.

The first set of public health regulations restricting certain measures came into effect on March 19, 2020. Since then the regulations have been varied from time to time, dependent on how bad the COVID-19 situation was in the country.

The SoE, though, came into effect on May 15, this year to bolster the regulations.

It was extended for three months on May 24 and expired at midnight on August 29. However, Parliament approved a second extension which was supposed to run until November 29.

Meanwhile, the coordinator of the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers Jai Leladharsingh said the SoE achieved nothing except to stifle business.

“The existing State of Emergency, upon hindsight, served very little or no purpose whatsoever. The lockdowns proved disastrous for businesses, especially the Small and Medium Enterprise sector (SME) as well as family-based businesses,” he said.

He added, “From an economic standpoint the whole situation was grossly mismanaged, resulting in business closures, persons being displaced and left unemployed. It was a shattered dream for the upper-middle class and the middle class. For the poor, it just got worse. Nonetheless, it is a welcome move to lift the SoE. “

Leladharsingh said the TT$250 million spent on the wasted project of Train 1 project by the National Gas Company could have been used to assist SMEs.

“The Business Sector has received little or no support from the Government. The SME Loan was very ineffective and was only accessed by just a small number of business owners. It did not fulfil its purpose and the payment of VAT returns remain a sore issue,” Leladharsingh said.

He said with the lifting of the SoE, bars and restaurants should be able to fully operate and people will have access to more jobs.

Leladharsingh expressed hope that the existing safe zones will continue to operate with rigorous compliance.

Fines for existing Public Health violations

  • Failure to wear a mask while in a vehicle- $5,000
  • Having a child over the age of eight in a vehicle without a mask- $5,000
  • Businesses that are allowed to operate under 50 per cent capacity as safe zones. Any business that violates safe zone restrictions – $50,000
  • An unvaccinated person who enters a safe zone is liable on summary conviction to a $10,000 fine and a term of three days imprisonment.
  • Someone who willingly submits a fraudulent vaccination card is liable on summary conviction to a $50,000 fine and five years imprisonment.
  • Private medical laboratory, medical practitioner or person who fails to report COVID results to the Chief Medical Officer is liable on summary conviction to a $250,000 fine and six months imprisonment.
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