‘No mask’ fines harsh

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Dear Honourable Attorney General, Firstly, let me congratulate you on being victorious and retaining your seat as the Member of Parliament for San Fernando West in the recently concluded general election.

I have been following, with great interest, the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions. Of specific concern to me at this time is the recently passed Public Health Amendment Bill (2020), which gives way for citizens to be fined for not wearing a mask while in public.

Honourable Attorney General, may I remind you that Covid-19 is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence and is new to everyone, including the young, middle-aged and the old. Therefore, wearing a face mask whenever in public is new to all of us.

When I saw that homeless people were being fined for not wearing a mask, I wondered where the compassion we once had for the downtrodden had gone. When we should be trying to help these people who often cannot afford to feed themselves, we find that the legal system condemns them.

Although not wearing a face mask is a summary offence, and is not a criminal charge, it is my belief that the fines for various levels of infringement can be considered as being harsh.

I ask that you consider setting the fines at: • $300 for first time offenders; • $700 for the second offence; • $1,000 for the third offence; • And $1,500 or seven days’ imprisonment for further offences.

As a senior citizen, a member of the business community, I urge you to revisit this law and also the laws regarding adherence of Covid-19 restrictions even when on private property.

It is my hope that this submission can be considered at this time.

In closing, I remain available to contribute on aspects such as these since I believe that with consultation, we can achieve much more that will be acceptable to all strata of society.

Balliram Maharaj
Arima