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HomeLOCAL NEWSENFORCEMENT OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH (COVID-19) (GATHERING) RULES, 2021

ENFORCEMENT OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH (COVID-19) (GATHERING) RULES, 2021

The Police High Command of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) wishes to remind the general public that SVG is combating the COVID-19 pandemic. As a consequence, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has implemented several strategies, measures, and protocols to effectively deal with the pandemic. One of the measures currently enforced is the Public Health (COVID-19) (Gathering) Rules, 2021.

Rule 2 of the Public Health (COVID-19) (Gathering) Rules, 2021 defines a “gathering organizer” as the person who organises a gathering. And for this purpose, the manager of a bar, nightclub or other places of entertainment is to be taken as the gathering organiser.

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Sub-rule (1) (a) identifies a place of entertainment as a “shop licensed to sell liquor under the Liquor Licence Act; and

Sub-rule 1 (b) a place where gaming is conducted

The legislation defines a public place as “an area, whether publicly or privately owned, to which the public has access by right or by invitation, expressed or implied, whether by payment of money or not.”

According to Sub-rule 2 (a), an outdoor gathering takes place when two or more persons are present together in the same outdoor public place to engage in an entertainment or recreational activity or any of the following activities – an open-air crusade, a block-o-rama, a party or fete, gathering around an open bar, for example at Heritage Square, a gathering at, or with direct access to, a courtyard, large yard or a large pool area, a boat cruise, a beach outing, a picnic, a concert, a reception or a funeral.

According to Sub-rule (2) (b), an indoor gathering takes place when two or more persons are present together in the same indoor public place to engage in an entertainment or recreational activity or any of the following activities – a concert, a party, or fete, a banquet, ball, dance or reception, an entertainment at a night club, bar or other places of entertainment, a meeting; or a boat ride on a ferry.

Rule 3 (1) deals with restrictions on outdoor gatherings. It states “unless permitted under rule 9, a person shall not host or participate in or attend an outdoor gathering which consists of more than twenty persons.”

Sub-rule (2) states “the gathering organiser or manager of an outdoor gathering shall in hosting the gathering comply with –

(a) The protocols set out in Schedule 1; and

(b) Any other condition specified by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in relation to the particular gathering

Sub-rule (3) states “a person who participates in an outdoor gathering shall:-

(a) Wear a facemask so as to cover nose, mouth, and chin unless the person is under the age of 6 years;

(b) Comply with the protocols for physical distancing issued by the CMO unless they are members of the same household or immediate family; and

(c) Comply with any other condition specified by the CMO

Rule 4 (1) deals with restrictions on persons gathering indoors. It states “a person shall not participate in a gathering which:-

(a) consists of more than twenty-person; and

(b) takes place at an outdoor public place, for example, at the car park at Massey Stores, Arnos Vale

Sub-rule (2) states “a person who participates in a gathering referred to in sub-rule 1 shall –

(a) Wear a facemask so as to cover nose, mouth, and chin unless the person is under the age of 6 years;

(b) Comply with the protocols for physical distancing issued by the CMO unless they are members of the same household or immediate family; and

(c) Comply with any other condition specified by the CMO in relation to the particular gathering.

Rule 5 (1) deals with restrictions on indoor gatherings. It states “Unless permitted under rule 9, a person shall not host or participate in or attend an indoor gathering which consists of more than ten persons.

Sub-rule (2) states “the gathering organizer or manager of an indoor gathering shall in hosting the gathering comply with –

(a) the protocols set out in Schedule 2; and

(b) any other condition specified by the CMO in relation to the particular gathering

Sub-rule (3) states “any person who attends or participates in an indoor gathering shall-

(a) Wear a facemask so as to cover nose, mouth, and chin unless the person is under the age of 6 years;

(b) Comply with the protocols for physical distancing issued by the CMO unless they are members of the same household or immediate family; and

(c) Comply with any other condition specified by the CMO in relation to the particular gathering.

Rule 9 (1) deals with the application for permission to exceed the prescribed amount. It states “the gathering organizer of an indoor or outdoor gathering or a person-in-charge of a place of religious worship who wishes to have more persons participate in or attend the gathering or services other than the amount prescribed by these Rules shall obtain the permission of the Commissioner of Police (COP).

Sub-rule (2) states “after consulting the CMO, the COP may permit the gathering organiser or person in charge of a place of religious worship to exceed the amount prescribed by these Rules subject to the following conditions:-

(a) that all the adults participating in or attending the gathering or services must have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease – 2019 for a minimum period of two weeks;

(b) that the gathering organiser or the person complies with the protocols set out in Schedule 4 which relates to the particular gathering or service; and

(c) that the gathering organiser or person complies with any other condition specified by the CMO in relation to the particular gathering or service.

Rule (10) deals with obligations on business or establishment. It states “the owner or operator of a business or establishment shall –

(a) ensure that –

(i) the staff of the business or establishment; and

(ii) persons who enter the business or establishment, comply with the protocols for physical distancing issued by the CMO;

(b) provide hand sanitizing stations for staff and persons who enter the business or establishment;

(c) ensure that persons do not gather in the business or place of establishment otherwise than for the purpose of transacting business; and

(d) comply with any other protocol issued by the CMO for the type of business or establishment.

Rule 11 (1) deals with the enforcement of rules. It states “A police officer may enter a business, establishment or public place during its hours of operation to ensure that the business, establishment or public place is complying with a restriction, requirement or condition imposed by these Rules and for that purpose, may ask questions of the owner or employees of the business, establishment or public place.”

Sub-rule (2) states “where a police officer considers that a number of persons are gathered together in contravention of restriction, requirement or condition imposed by rule 3,4,5,6,7,8 or 9 or that a gathering organizer has failed to comply with any such restriction, requirement or condition, the police officer may –

(a) terminate the gathering and direct the persons gathered to disperse; or

(b) direct a person in the gathering to leave the gathering.

Rule 12 (1) deals with offences and penalties. It states “A person commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, the person –

(a) contravenes rule 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 or 10

(b) contravenes a restriction, requirement, or condition imposed by rule 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 or 10.

(c) contravenes a requirement imposed or a directive given under rule 11;

(d) contravenes a requirement imposed or a directive given under rule 11; (6); or

(e) obstructing a police officer exercising his duties under these Rules.

Sub-rule (2) states “A person commits an offence if the person intentionally or recklessly provides false or misleading answers to a question put to him by a police officer under rule 11 (1).

Sub-rule (3) states “For the purpose of sub-rule (1), a person has a reasonable excuse –

(a) in relation to wearing a facemask –

(i) if the person is eating, drinking, or taking medicines; or

(ii) where a request is made of the person to remove his mask temporarily for security and identification purpose; and

(b) in such circumstances as may be provided in protocols issued by the CMO.

Sub-rule 4 states “A person who commits an offence under this rule is liable on summary conviction to a fine of one thousand dollars.”

Please be advised the RSVGPF will continue the enforcement of these Rules and Protocols which were implemented to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease; to ensure that they are being complied with by organisers of gatherings, business owners or operators, establishments, places of religious worship and individuals generally.

The RSVGPF encourages citizens to comply with the COVID-19 protocols and measures including immunization against the coronavirus.

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