Fiji Health act amendment bill to curb COVID-19 breach tabled in Parliament


Fiji’s Public Health Amendment Bill 2021 has been tabled in Parliament today.

Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said the amendment to the Public Health Act is urgent and there are certain public measures and protocols that need to be adhered to as Fiji fights the second wave of COVID-19.

This will bring in spot fines for those found in breach of COVID-19 restrictions such as not wearing a mask.

“There has been a number of infringements by members of the public. We need to highlight to them that things like wearing masks when you interacting with lots of people and crowded places, like having CareFIJI apps are a must. Currently we have had more people run up to court for various infringement breaches. It’s a very straightforward process and if you are not adhering to these processes, it’s very clear cut. Most countries have moved to have penalties through fines.”

Opposition Whip and SODELPA’s Lynda Tabuya said the time given to debate the amendment is not enough.

She said there are things such as people not having smartphones and also the restrictions on businesses needs to be closely looked at.

“More regulation and more control by the state. I mean we still have the military officers who caused the original breach and we haven’t seen any action and that of the Navy officers, who breached COVID at the borders and went through. The rules need to apply to everyone and be seen that it is applied to everyone.”

Local Government Minister, Premila Kumar said there is not much difference in the bill to what is already being practiced on the ground.

“Some of the measures mentioned in the Bill is exactly what is happening on the ground now. There is no difference between what is stated here and what is happening on the ground. There are people who don’t have smartphones but when they enter the premises like example the business place or the municipal markets for that matter, their names and other details are recorded, which will help in contact tracing.”

The Bill, if passed, gives officers, such as Police officers or authorised, who have reason to believe that a person has committed an offense for which a fixed penalty is payable, the authorised officer may issue an infringement notice to the person…. PACNEWS