Fiji Parliament amends Public Health Bill to curb breach of COVID-19 restrictions

People who do not adhere to COVID-19 restrictions will now be issued on the spot fines.

Fiji’s Parliament has passed the Public Health Amendment Bill 2021 which paves the way for police officers to impose “on-the-spot” payment of fines for people not wearing masks and businesses not adhering to COVID safe measures

It will now bring in fines for offences which may include the failure to wear an appropriate face covering or present the careFIJI mobile application on entering business premises, or the failure to comply with mandatory curfews, physical distancing requirements and capacity restrictions for gatherings, events, public service vehicles and businesses.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the amendment was necessary because previously the Permanent Secretary for Health did not have the powers to fine those whom flouted the law.

Authorities at the forefront of the country’s battle against COVID-19 have expressed concerns about the breaches of restrictions.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong highlighted the increasing number of breaches with people not wearing masks, socializing and drinking kava.

He said drinking kava is becoming a significant factor in the spread of the virus as Fiji battles to contain its second wave of COVID-19.

He adds that drinking grog involves close contact with others and drinking out of a common cup, which creates perfect conditions for the virus to spread from one person to another.

“Don’t invite anyone to your house, don’t go to anyone else’s house, don’t share a bowl with colleagues after work, or during work or in any other place. I know many of you are familiar with the small shed that is sitting at the back of the workplace, where we all gather and enjoy a basin of grog, we need to ban it.”

Meanwhile, Fiji recorded 64 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday.

Dr Fong said the new cases stem from the existing clusters.

20 patients have recovered, which means there are now 515 active cases in isolation.

Fiji has recorded a total of 751 cases since the first case was reported in March 2020.