Islanders who do not observe physical distancing will soon be fined up to £1,000, under plans put forward by the Health Minister.
The new legislation, which Deputy Richard Renouf says has been drawn up following advice from the Medical Officer of Health, aims to ensure people keep two metres away from others who are not in their household, unless they are in a home, garden or workplace.
Anyone who does not comply will be committing an offence of “wilfully failing to comply with the direction of a police officer to cease to gather at less than two metres with someone who is from another household”.
The penalty will be a fine of up to £1,000.
Pictured: The offence will only be triggered if a direction is issued by a police officer.
A report accompanying his proposals explains an offence will be committed if an islander refuses to stand two metres apart from someone else when it is “reasonably possible” to do so. This aims to rule out any circumstances in which a person cannot comply, because of their physical capacity or their surroundings for example.
Meanwhile, the term ‘gather’ has been chosen to underpin the offence as it means that an exhaustive list of exemptions will not be required to allow people within two metres of each other in passing, by accident, or momentarily.
The offence will only be triggered if a direction is issued by a police officer so that islanders are not convicted of an offence for any breaches without warning.
People from different households will not be considered to have committed an offence if they come within two metres of each other to meet their legal obligations, in an emergency or to provide medical attention.
Further exemptions may be added by the Health Minister, but existing ones will not be removed.
Pictured: Adults will have to ensure children also follow physical distancing.
Adults will be expected to ensure the children they are with follow physical distancing. If they fail to take “reasonably practicable steps” to stop the child breaching safe distancing, following direction from a police officer, they will also be considered of having committed an offence.
“This does not mean that the offences cannot apply to children,” the report states. “For example, if a child is not under the supervision of an adult, or wilfully fails to stop breaching safe distancing and is old enough to receive and understand a direction, then they are committing an offence.
“This is intended to manage the situation where under 18-year-olds gather together in breach of the restrictions but without adults supervising.”
If given the green light by politicians, the law will be in force until the end of September or until the Medical Officer for Health, Dr Susan Turnbull, Medical Officer of Health, considers they are no longer a “necessary and proportionate response”.
The proposals will be debated at the next States Assembly meeting on Tuesday 2 June.
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