Failure to comply with St Vincent and the Grenadines’ mask-wearing mandate could result in an individual having to part with as much as $500.
Local health officials declared last Friday afternoon that SVG has moved into a phase of community transmission of COVID-19.
This announcement was accompanied by a slew of additional measures to help stop the spread of the virus. And in the Statutory Rules & Orders No 4, which came into force on Saturday, February 6, failure to adhere to these new measures is now a ticketable offence.
Masks are now mandatory in all public transportation vehicles, public establishments and private establishments to which the public has access.
All public vehicles will only be permitted to transport a maximum of half the number of passengers for which they are licensed.
There is to be no indoor dining in eating establishments, but takeaway services are allowed for indoor restaurants.
Outdoor dining with adequate spacing is permitted.
There will also be enforcement of all components of the mass gathering protocol with particular emphasis on indoor gatherings atplaces of entertainment such as bars, gambling sheds and rum shops.
According to the SR&O, an individual who drives a public service vehicle without wearing a mask properly (fitted to face so as to cover nose, mouth and chin) is liable to a fine of $100.
An individual who drives a public service vehicle with a passenger who is not wearing a mask properly or carries more than 50 per cent of the passengers the vehicle is licensed to carry, is liable to a fine of $100 for each offence.
Someone who rides in a public service vehicle without wearing a face mask properly is also liable to a fine of $100.
Persons can also be fined $100 if they participate in indoor dining at a restaurant or food establishment, gather at a bar, nightclub or place of entertainment where the number exceeds mass gathering protocols or occupy a public space without wearing a face mask properly fitted to the face.
A person who accompanies a child but fails to provide and ensure that the child has or wears a face mask in the manner that is required can also be fined $100.
The SR&O also notes several offences that attract $500 fines.
These include permitting more than 10 persons to gather in a bar, nightclub or place of entertainment, failure to ensure that persons gathered at a bar, nightclub or place of entertainment comply with the protocols for social distancing and providing indoor dining facilities at a restaurant or food establishment.
An individual can also be fined $500 if they provide outdoor dining facilities at a restaurant or food establishment but fail to ensure that persons participating in the outdoor dining facilities comply with the protocols for social distancing.
“But for the $100 fine, if you go to the court…and you not paying the fine and it has to go through the court to be enforced, the magistrate will charge you naturally, higher, up to $500,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves explained on radio on Sunday while speaking about the new SR&O.
“And those $500 fines, like if you own a restaurant and you don’t follow these rules, you own it or operate it…a night club or place of entertainment, the ticket of $500 will now become $1000.”
The prime minister noted however, that there is no alternative prison sentence for non-compliance.
But persons can still be imprisoned if the matter goes to court and the individual still fails to follow the court’s order and pay the fine.
Gonsalves said he believes most people will follow the rules and that the Police, who are tasked with enforcement, will apply these rules with sensitivity where necessary.