Under the new Emergency Management (COVID-19) (Protocols) (No.6) Directive, 2022, people may now be fined $100 for failing to wear a face mask in public.
This applies to a public building, public place, or while travelling on a public service vehicle or other public transport; whether as a driver, conductor or passenger.
It comes in the form of a “fixed penalty” or ticketing system and failure to pay within 14 days could lead to a fine of $50 000, imprisonment for a year, or both on summary conviction.
At a COVID-19 media conference earlier this year, Minister of Health, Ian Gooding-Edghill, said they would explore a ticketing system after members of the public complained that too many people were still being taken before the courts for “relatively minor breaches of the COVID directive”.
Paragraph 33 of the Directive states that a member of the Police Service may inform an individual that “if he does not wish to be prosecuted for the alleged offence in court, he may pay to the clerk of the Magistrate’s Court in the district in which the offence was committed, the fixed penalty of $100 specified in the fixed penalty notice, within the time specified in the notice….”
The Directive further states that a fixed penalty is payable within 14 days from the date of the fixed penalty notice.
“Where a person upon whom a fixed penalty notice is served fails to pay the fixed penalty within the time specified in the notice, the duplicate sent to the Magistrate’s Court … shall constitute a charge brought against the person named therein, and the person shall be dealt with according to the law and shall be liable to the penalty specified in paragraph 32,” the Directive explained.
Paragraph 32 explains that any person who contravenes the Directive or fails to comply with any protocol specified by the Chief Medical Officer of the Unit, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of one year or to both.
The fixed penalty notice will be signed by a member of the Police Service and will state the date, time, and place of service of the notice; the provision of the Directive creating the offence alleged, and the particulars of the offence as required under the Directive; the amount of the fixed penalty, and the time within which the fixed penalty may be paid.
A person who refuses to answer or who gives a false name or a false address is guilty of an offence.
It is to be noted that people with reasonable explanation may be exempted from wearing of masks under specific conditions as outlined under Paragraph 21 (8), for example, by reason of any medical, physical; or mental illness or disability when exercising, taking medication, and eating or drinking, among other listed provisions.
Members of the public should familiarise themselves with the content of the Directives which may be downloaded on the Barbados Government Information Service’s website.
The new Directive is for the period April 14 to 30, 2022.