As government’s pilot phase of testing its electronic monitoring of home-isolating passengers began Thursday, new regulations with criminal offences for breaches of the terms of quarantine have kicked in.
Government published two sets of public health regulations aimed at facilitating the phased reopening of borders which begins 1 Oct., as well as ensuring that the terms of home isolation are followed by those who have opted for it.
Under the new Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19 (Partial Lifting of Restrictions) (No.4) (Amendment) Regulations , it is an offence for people quarantined at home to permit another person to visit them.
Those found in breach of this regulation will face a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for six months. A bill to increase penalties for breaches of these regulations is set to be considered at the upcoming meeting of the Legislative Assembly, a Government Information Services statement, issued late Thursday night, said.
The changes took effect Thursday evening, the same day a British Airways flight from London arrived. A selection of 29 passengers from 12 households were chosen to take part in a trial run of what is being called the ‘quarantine in residence programme’.
All participating travellers went home to an empty isolation accommodation.
“None have household members on-Island isolating with them,” the statement said.
The other passengers who did not opt for the electronic monitoring were taken to government isolation facilities at local hotels.
The quarantine in residence programme, the GIS statement continued, is expected to be more broadly utilised in October during the first phase of the border-reopening process.
Under the new regulations, which were approved by Cabinet, exemptions will be extended to those providing food, grocery and medication delivery services to a private residence which has been deemed a place of quarantine by the Medical Officer of Health. However, individuals providing these services are prohibited from entering the premises.
The Medical Officer of Health and those with written permission from the MOH will be exempted from this restriction.
The regulations also contain a special section on police powers and gives officers the legal authority to enter any place or facility of quarantine or isolation, including a private residence or multi-dwelling premises, in which a designated home-isolation facility is located.
It allows for a police officer to use reasonable force, if necessary, in the exercise of the powers under the regulation.
The regulations also empower officers to require a person to answer any questions to
enable confirmation of their identity and whether they are adhering to home-isolation stipulations.
“Where the person does not satisfy the police officer that they are complying with these
Regulations, the police officer may detain the person and inform the Medical Officer of Health or a person designated by the Medical Officer of Health of the fact that a person has been so detained; and convey the person to a facility of quarantine or isolation, if so
directed by the Medical Officer of Health,” the regulations state.
They also stipulate that in multi-dwelling premises, such as a condominiums or apartment buildings, these restrictions do not apply beyond the residence in which persons are quarantined, the GIS statement said.
A second set of new regulations entitled Control of Covid-19 (No.2) Regulations allows for travellers to quarantine at home, under the direction of the Medical Officer of Health.
Both regulations were gazetted simultaneously.
According to the GIS statement, a multi-agency public sector team has been working for several weeks to develop a safe and effective quarantine process that is reinforced by monitoring technology, and other safeguards such as regular check-ins.
“Officials say their objective has been to create a multi-layered process that offers as much protection as is possible to the wider Cayman Islands community,” the statement added.
The revisions to the public health regulations, the statement said, followed Cabinet approval of the team’s pre-launch testing proposals.
The regulations are in place for a period of 18 months, commencing from Thursday. They are subject to revision by Cabinet.