Opposition Supports Public Health Act Changes

By Demion McTair Updated 4:55 a.m., Wednesday, 8 April 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4)

Kingstown (ON SVG) – A bill for an Act to amend the Public Health Act of 1977 received bipartisan support in Parliament on Tuesday.

The mover of the bill was Health Minister, Senator Luke Browne of the government side.

Minister Browne in his concluding remarks on the debate on the bill said the changes placed the 1977 Act “on a firmer, sounder, more appropriate footing that is relevant to the 21st century”.

Opposition Leader, Dr. Godwin Friday expressed the support of members of the opposition for the measure.

“We are in extraordinary times and given the urgency of the situation, the conditions on the ground with respect to persons violating the quarantine… and putting large segments of our population at risk… we on this side of the house will support the measure that helps to protect, or gives greater protection to the general public in this time of the Covid-19 crisis” -Dr. Friday said.

Dr. Friday said that in the absence of border closures which his side has called for, the next best option would be to support the strengthening of quarantine, isolation and other measures.

“Any tools that help to protect the public in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in these circumstances have to be considered Mr. Speaker, so long as they are balanced with protecting public health and individual rights” – Dr. Friday said.

“I have read the legislation Mr. Speaker, I have seen yes there is authority to detain and to apprehend, but, those persons as well, they have a right to an attorney to represent them if they feel that their rights are improperly violated” – Dr. Friday added.

The bill reached its third reading and was successfully passed.

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