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State of Emergency for COVID-19
State of Emergency for COVID-19

President Charles A. Savarin tonight declared a state of emergency effectively banning people from most public spaces, prohibiting events, closing bars and rum shops and most gatherings.

During a state of emergency citizens' normal rights, such as freedom of movement and freedom of assembly, guaranteed under the constitution, will be suspended for a specific period.

Under the Emergency Powers (Curfew) Order, 2020, President Savarin has imposed a 20-day curfew throughout Dominica from 1st April 2020 to 20th April, 2020.

The state of emergency was declared in response to the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Worldwide,the virus (1st April) has infected 935,957 people. Deaths:47,245.Recovered: 194,286. Up to 1st April 2020 health authorities have declared 12 cases of COVID-19 in Dominica.

There are three periods during which the curfew will be enforced.

Firstly, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday to Friday a person must not be out in a public place except to provide or access essential services, the Order stated.

Secondly, and significantly, the President has ordered a total shut down of Dominica on weekends up to 20th April.

The Order stated: "From 6:00 p.m. on Friday to 6:00 a.m. on Monday a person must not be out in a public place unless they fall within the exceptions… or have written authorisation from the Commissioner of Police".

Thirdly, there will also be a 24-hour curfew for six days from 9th April to 14th April. That curfew will be in force "from 6:00 p.m. on Thursday the 9th day of April 2020 to 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday the 14th day of April 2020."

According to the Order, the following "essential service" can only be open between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Monday to Friday - banks, credit unions and money services business; wholesale or retail grocery stores, village shops, supermarket, mini-marts and commercial bakeries; petrol stations. Pharmacies may open between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, the Order stated.

In addition, the Order suspends liquor licenses from Wednesday, 1st April to Tuesday the 14th April 2020.

"For the avoidance of doubt all bars shall be closed throughout the period of this Order and there shall be no sale or consumption of alcohol in or in the vicinity of any shop, grocery store, or supermarket or in any public place," the Order stated.

Government has also stepped up the social distancing protocol required for the control the spread of COVID-19.

The Order stated: "Every business or establishment must ensure that all customers and staff maintain physical distancing of no less than six feet in or outside their business;

  • determine the number of persons that may be permitted in the establishment at any one time by permitting one person for every thirty square feet of store space;

  • within twenty-four hours of the commencement of this Order, place distance markers six feet apart, indicating where each customer must stand on a line at a checkout point;

  • within twenty-four hours of the commencement of this Order, place distance markers six feet apart on the outside of the establishment, indicating where customers must stand while waiting to enter the establishment; all cashiers must be provided with a face mask; exercise proper hygienic practices."

During the period of the state of emergency "all religious and educational places of instruction or worship shall remain closed to the general public, other than for a wedding or funeral which complies with specific requirements.

No person shall host or attend:

  • "A private party which includes any person from outside of the immediate household of the house occupant"

  • "A recreational or competitive sporting event;

  • "A wedding which hosts five or more persons other than the bride, bridegroom, official witnesses and the marriage officer;

  • "Any social event;

  • "A funeral, except ten members of the immediate family and at least one officiant and essential mortuary staff; or a meeting of a fraternal society, private or social club or civic association or organisation.

Restriction on travel

The Order stated that "all seaports shall be closed to seafaring and private boating; and no visitor shall be permitted to enter and disembark for any reason, including transiting through the State of Dominica".

Exceptions are made for cargo flights or cargo ships, commercial courier flights; emergency flights; and flights carrying any diplomat.

Public transportation

No person shall offer for hire or seek to travel on any motor omnibus, unless there is or would be not more than one person per row in the motor omnibus;

  • No person other than the driver shall occupy the front seats of any vehicle for hire and no person shall sit immediately behind another.

Visits

  • No person shall visit or be permitted to visit any place of quarantine or isolation station;

  • A patient in a hospital or residential care establishment or facility, including an infirmary or nursing home;

  • A detainee in a prison

Penalty

A person who contravenes or fails to comply with these regulations, the Order states, "shall be guilty of an offence and, on summary conviction, liable to a fine of $500 and to imprisonment for twelve months and to forfeiture of any goods or money in respect of which the offence has been committed".


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