During a Friday sitting at Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duffs Bottom, the House of Assembly rushed through two laws that legislators said will help the territory respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 Control and Suppression (Miscellaneous and Provision) Act 2020 allows government to enact stricter quarantine measures and restrictions, including monitoring quarantined people at home.

Under the law, people who have travelled to affected areas can be mandated to quarantine, whereas before government could only strongly suggest self-quarantine, according to Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone.

Penalties for violations include a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months.

The act also allows the government to close its borders in threatening circumstances without a special sitting of Cabinet, legislators said.

The second law — the Financial Services Exceptional Circumstances Act 2020 — is designed to help the financial services industry continue to work remotely in exceptional circumstances, according to Premier Andrew Fahie.

Mr. Fahie explained that a similar law was passed after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, but it was a temporary measure.

“A new and all-embracing act is needed to deal with all exceptional circumstances,” Mr. Fahie said Friday. “This would make it unnecessary to enact a specific legislation each time an exceptional circumstance arises.”

Legislators also passed another motion that allows the HOA to meet remotely.

The Friday sitting was held at the Duffs Bottom location to allow legislators to practice social distancing.


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