Resurrection of the Quarantine Act Part 2

By August 5, 2020Uncategorized

Part 2 continued…

Quarantine in Jamaica’s Territorial Waters

As expected the Quarantine Act has various provisions on how to handle ships that are coming to dock in Jamaica. Part II Section 4 mandates that “the master of a ship approaching the island from a foreign port shall ascertain the state of health of all persons on board and shall prepare and sign a declaration of health”. Section 6 puts even more health and safety measures in place by dictating “that every ship arriving in the island from a foreign port, shall be visited on arrival to the island by the visiting officer and the master shall surrender to the visiting officer the declaration of health and present to him for inspection any other ship’s papers which the visiting officer may desire to inspect.”

A Visiting Officer may grant permission to a ship to have dealings with a port if he is satisfied from the declaration of health and otherwise that during the voyage, or if the voyage has lasted longer than six weeks, during the six weeks immediately preceding arrival that (a) there has been no death or case of illness on board suspected to be due to infectious disease; (b) there has been no plague or undue mortality among rats or mice on board; (c) the ship has not called at an infected port: and (d) the ship was not overcrowded or in an insanitary condition.

As such one can see that the Quarantine Act ensures to protect Jamaica from infectious diseases entering the island from persons arriving by ship. Therefore it is seen that the old fashioned way of quarantining a ship has not been discarded but rather modified to ensure that there is as little disruption to world trade as is possible.

Quarantine on the Mainland

The Quarantine Act has even more challenges as it is harder to control the movement of people on the main land, however the Act still imposes regulations and restrictions on the Jamaican population as deemed fit, depending on the situation. Section 9 empowers the Quarantine Authority to make orders when an emergency exists, the Authority may by order direct special measures to be taken during the continuance of that emergency.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force at Section 12 of the Quarantine Act is given full authority to ensure that all persons on the island comply with rules and regulations born out of this Act, as it states:

12(1) It shall be the duty of every constable to enforce (using force if necessary) compliance with this Act and with any order, ‘instruction or condition lawfully made, given or imposed by any officer or other person under the authority of this Act; and for such purpose any constable may board any ship or aircraft and may enter any premises without a warrant’.

12(2) Any constable may arrest without a warrant any person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to have committed any offence against this Act.”

Offences and Penalties

For those amongst us who find it hard to follow rules and regulations Section 10 dictates what it considers to be an offence, it states:

Any person who:

  1. refuses to answer or knowingly gives an untrue answer to any inquiry made under the authority of this Act, or intentionally withholds any information reasonably required … or knowingly furnishes to any such officer information which is false; or
  2. …refuses or willfully omits to carry out any lawful order by any officer; or
  3. assaults, resists, willfully obstructs, intimidates, offers or gives a bribe to any officer

Section 12 further elucidates that If one is found guilty of the disorderly conduct mentioned above, they shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate, to a fine of five hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment with hard labour for six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.

Based on the aforementioned on can see that the golden thread running through the Quarantine Act is ensuring that persons who may be carriers of an infected disease will remain ‘inside’ the ship or ‘tan a yuh yard’ until the pandemic is brought under control.