$185 million in COVID fines
Nearly $185 million in fines have been imposed on persons by judges across the nation for various breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA).
Data from the Court Administration Division (CAD) indicate that the fines were imposed between March last year and June 2021. During that period, 8,028 persons were brought before the courts for breaches of the DRMA of which 75 were placed in custody for non-payment of fines.
However, the information released to THE WEEKEND STAR by the CAD has not taken into account the huge fines being imposed by judges in some courts in recent times. Additionally, the number of persons who have been locked up for breaching the DRMA has sky-rocketed since Parliament amended the law that removed the requirement for the police to warn persons before proceeding to make an arrest.
The police recently published data that more than 18,000 persons were charged with various breaches of the DRMA between March 2020 to September 2021.
A whopping $4.69 million was collected in fines for breaches of the DRMA in Morant Bay, St Thomas, on September 22.
On that day, just more than 70 persons were brought before the court for various breaches of the DRMA, which is the main legislation being used to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the persons were hit with fines as high as $200,000 for failing to wear masks in public places.
Chief Parish Court Judge Chester Crooks has defended the hefty fines imposed on persons who were found guilty of failing to wear a mask in public, arguing that a strong message must be sent.