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Jamaica: Legal Response to Covid-19

Jamaica [jm]

Gabrielle Elliott-Williams, Tracy Robinson, Kamille Adair Morgan, Jeffrey Foreman, Dionne Jackson-Miller, Tenesha Myrie

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 24 May 2024

General editors: Prof. Jeff King; Prof. Octavio Ferraz
Area editors: Dr. Pedro Villarreal; Dr. Andrew Jones; Prof. Alan Bogg; Prof. Nicola Countouris; Prof. Eva Pils; Prof. Nico Steytler; Dr. Elena de Nictolis; Dr. Bryan Thomas; Dr. Michael Veale; Dr. Silvia Suteu; Prof. Colleen Flood; Prof. Cathryn Costello; Dr. Natalie Byrom.


© The several contributors 2021. Some rights reserved. This is an open access publication, available online and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0), a copy of which is available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/. Enquiries concerning use outside the scope of the licence terms should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press.

Preferred Citation: G Elliott-Williams, T Robinson, K Adair Morgan, J Foreman, D Jackson-Miller, T Myrie, ‘Jamaica: Legal Response to Covid-19’, in Jeff King and Octávio LM Ferraz et al (eds), The Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19 (OUP 2021). doi: 10.1093/law-occ19/e26.013.26

For Parts I–IV, except where the text indicates the contrary, the law is as it stood on: 30 March 2021.

For Parts V–VI, except where the text indicates the contrary, the law is as it stood on: 31 July 2022.

At the end of 2020, Jamaica had 12,915 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 303 deaths.1 Jamaica experienced several spikes in Covid-19 cases and deaths, particularly from August to October 2020,2 the first quarter of 2021,3 and from August to October 2021.4 By the end of 2021, confirmed cases increased 600 per cent over 2020 figures to 94,649 confirmed cases, and deaths were at 2476, seven times the number the previous year.5 The increase in cases and deaths slowed in 2022, and at 30 September 2022 there were 151,931 confirmed cases and 3320 deaths overall.6 Jamaica imposed significant restrictions on movement in response to the spikes in Covid-19 cases and deaths. During some periods, hospitalizations in a number of facilities exceeded isolation capacity,7 necessitating the creation of additional isolation spaces and the setting up of field hospitals.8 The State began vaccination in March 2021 as limited vaccine supplies became available.9 By 18 October 2022, it had administered a total of 1,495,422 doses, and approximately 25 per cent of the population was fully vaccinated by 31 January 2022.10 The government ended most of Jamaica’s Covid-19 measures on 15 April 2022.11

I.  Constitutional Framework

1.  Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom (UK) monarch, is the Head of State and is represented by a Governor General whose role is largely ceremonial. The Constitution of Jamaica is the supreme law and came into force in August 1962, when the island became the first country in the Caribbean to gain independence from the UK.12

2.  The Parliament is bicameral and tripartite. It comprises an elected House of Representatives, a nominated Senate, and the Head of State. The House of Representatives is made up of 63 elected members and the Senate has 21 members, 13 of whom are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister and 8 on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.13 The Constitution in section 48 vests Parliament with the power to make laws for ‘the peace, order and good government of Jamaica.’ Parliament can delegate law-making power to the executive branch, but it must maintain effective control over the power.

3.  The effective head of the executive branch is the Prime Minister, who, with a Cabinet, has the general control of the Government and is collectively responsible to the Parliament.14 There is an overlap between the legislative and executive branches. The Prime Minister is the member of the House of Representatives who is best able to command the confidence of a majority of the members of that House. The members of the Cabinet are all appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister and must be either members of the House of Representatives or the Senate, except for the Attorney General.

4.  The Governor General must also appoint a Leader of the Opposition. Section 80 of the Constitution provides that this is the member of the House of Representatives who the Governor General thinks is best able to command the support of a majority of those members who do not support the Government.

5.  As a unitary state, health protection is primarily the responsibility of central government, though some health-related functions are undertaken by 14 local government authorities operating at the parish level, including public cleaning, and managing and maintaining infrastructure and public facilities such as drains, gullies, markets, and cemeteries. There are 227 elected councillors serving in the municipalities across the island and the municipalities have the power to make by-laws, regulations, and rules for the good governance of the parish.15

6.  The judicial branch comprises courts with both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Parish Courts serve all 14 parishes and generally hear summary matters. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal are superior courts and final appeals are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council based in London. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to review laws, including delegated legislation, and executive action to determine their consistency with the Constitution, including its chapter 3, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

7.  The basic constitutional structure of the state has not changed in response to the pandemic. However, there has been a significant increase in delegated legislation made by the Prime Minister under section 26 of the Disaster Risk Management Act 2015 (DRMA).16

II.  Applicable Legal Framework

A.  Constitutional and international law

The Constitution17 provides that the Governor General may declare a state of public emergency if a period of public disaster has arisen as a result of the occurrence of any outbreak of infectious disease, among other reasons.18 The Governor General is constitutionally required to act in accordance with the advice of Cabinet or a relevant minister in the performance of such functions.19 Following the proclamation, a state of public emergency can remain in effect for up to 14 days.20 It can be extended by a resolution supported by a two-thirds majority of all the members of each House for up to three months in each instance. The Government must secure bipartisan support in the Senate for extensions because its 13 seats in the Senate are less than the two-thirds majority required for extensions.

8.  Since 2018, states of public emergency have been proclaimed in various communities in response to high rates of serious crime. Several of these continued after the beginning of the pandemic.21 Bipartisan support for extensions of these emergencies has not always been forthcoming,22 and some detainees have succeeded in challenging their indefinite detentions under one such emergency period.23

9.  During a state of emergency, the State can introduce measures pursuant to regulations made under the Emergency Powers Act 1938,24 which limit freedom of movement, liberty, and the right to a public hearing if those measures are reasonably justifiable for dealing with the emergency situation.25 In respect of other rights, the general limitations clause applies such that limitations on those rights must be demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.26 In both cases, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to determine the constitutionality of restrictions of rights recognized in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.27 The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction to determine if the decision to proclaim or to extend a state of public emergency is based on one of the purposes specified in the Charter.28 The Emergency Powers Act requires emergency regulations made during a state of emergency by the Governor General to be subject to affirmative resolution without which they expire after seven days. However, this is not a requirement in the Constitution of Jamaica.29

10.  The Government in Jamaica opted not to declare a state of public emergency in response to the pandemic and instead used the 2015 DRMA. In principle, the DRMA and delegated legislation made under it must conform with the Constitution. This includes the implied doctrine of separation of powers as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and its prescription that limits on rights must be demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. There was significant debate between jurists about whether the Constitution required the Government to use the public emergency mechanism for its Covid-19 measures. The debate centred on the adequacy of either mechanism in safeguarding rights and providing a check on the executive’s expansive delegated law-making. Given the uncertainty captured in the debate about the constitutionality of managing the pandemic without resort to a state of emergency, as well as the fact that there were already states of emergencies in place in various areas, the Parliamentary Opposition called on the executive to utilize the emergency regime, but indicated that it would not mount a challenge to the approach chosen by the Government.30

11.  Jamaica is a party to several human rights treaties which are relevant to its response to the pandemic. These include the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Jamaica had not entered any derogations under the ACHR or ICCPR at the time of writing.31 Jamaica is also part of a treaty-established regional arrangement known as the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).32 The latter is the mechanism through which Caribbean states have accessed the COVAX Facility.33

12.  Generally, Jamaican courts take a dualist approach to resolving conflicts between domestic and international law obligations. For treaty obligations to be directly enforceable before domestic courts, the legislature must incorporate them into domestic law. If the Constitution is open to more than one interpretation, judges should adopt the interpretation that is consistent with Jamaica’s international treaty obligations, even if the treaty is not incorporated into domestic law.34 In addition, courts routinely refer to international law as persuasive precedent when interpreting the Constitution.35

13.  Jamaica has not implemented the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations (IHRs) 2005 through legislation. However, it has relied heavily on the WHO’s recommendations on infection prevention and control in establishing mandates for mask wearing, sanitization, physical distancing, and guidelines for re-opening public facilities.36

B.  Statutory provisions

14.  The Government relied almost exclusively on the provisions of the DRMA for making delegated legislation in the management of the pandemic.37 First, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) must submit a report to the relevant cabinet minister that there is a local condition in the country tending to endanger public safety or a part of the country is threatened with or affected by a natural or anthropogenic hazard, and that measures to address this should be taken promptly.38 Then the relevant Minister must give written notice to the Prime Minister who can declare a part or whole of Jamaica to be a disaster area.39

15.  If the Prime Minister is satisfied that a disaster has occurred, is occurring, or is imminent, and that extraordinary measures are required to prevent or minimize loss of life, prejudice to the safety, or harm to the health of persons, they can make further orders.40 Those orders can direct the enforcement of measures to remove or guard against the disaster or its consequences, or to mitigate the disaster.41 The Prime Minister’s orders under the DRMA are effective if published in a daily newspaper circulating in Jamaica or other broadcast media.42 The orders remain in force until the time specified in the instrument.43

16.  The government relied on the Public Health Act to institute a few measures as it transitioned away from promulgating Covid-19 measures.44 The Public Health Act authorises the relevant Minister to prohibit the assembly of persons and order closure of public spaces or schools.45 Additionally, it allows the Minister, by order, to direct the enforcement of any measures recommended by the Central Health Committee or by a Local Board, in response to an apparent threat to any part of the island in the form any communicable disease of epidemic proportions.46 In either case, the relevant Minister is the person charged for the time being with responsibility for the department or subject to which the context in the legislation refers.47

17.  As noted in Part II.A above, the Parliamentary Opposition urged the Government to manage the pandemic under the framework of a state of public emergency.

18.  The Quarantine Act48 and Emergency Powers Act49 are other statutes with some relevance to managing a pandemic. The 1951 Quarantine Act establishes a Quarantine Authority and gives the relevant Minister the power to make regulations to address infections and public health risks arising from ships and aircraft. The Emergency Powers Act is applicable only under a declared state of public emergency and it authorizes the Governor General to make regulations to manage the emergency situation.

C.  Executive rule-making powers

19.  Executive rule-making powers in the form of delegated legislation played a preponderant role in providing rules for dealing with the pandemic. Measures vary in length, and some lasted as little as one to two weeks.50 In some instances measures ceased to apply based on the use of sunset provisions. In others, measures ceased to apply having been overtaken by other measures in subsequent orders. With multiple iterations in different orders, some measures like restrictions on gatherings remained in force since 18 March 2020.51

20.  Thus far, there have been no legal challenges to the measures in the DRMA orders. They are open to judicial scrutiny for their conformity to the scope of the delegated powers provided in the parent legislation, the DRMA, and administrative law principles of reasonableness and fairness. They are also open to judicial scrutiny for their conformity with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and implied constitutional principle of the rule of law. The doctrine of the rule of law includes the principle of legal certainty.52 Although the doctrine of legal certainty is not very well developed in Jamaican constitutional law, the latter borrows frequently from European human rights law in which legal certainty includes the principle that laws should be adequately accessible.53

D.  Guidance

21.  The Ministry of Health and Wellness provides most Covid-19 guidelines and protocols.54 Some are incorporated by reference into orders and thus made enforceable under the DRMA.55 No significant divergence between official guidance and the law was identified.

III.  Institutions and Oversight

A.  The role of legislatures in supervising the executive

22.  The Parliament has a role in ongoing oversight over the regulation or order making powers of the Government only if so provided for by the parent statute. Some statutes require regulations or orders to be subject to resolutions of each House of Parliament or a resolution of the House of Representatives.56 Where delegated legislation is subject to an affirmative resolution, this means that the regulations do not come into effect until affirmed by a resolution of both Houses or the House of Representatives as specified.57 Where delegated legislation is subject to a negative resolution, those regulations are to be laid before each House of Parliament or, where so specified, the House of Representatives. Either House or the House of Representatives can within a specified period annul the regulations, otherwise the regulations are valid.58 Both give notice to the lawmakers and an opportunity to consider the delegated legislation. The DRMA does not include any of these oversight mechanisms in respect of the orders made by the Prime Minister in exercise of their power under section 26. However, Parliament can terminate the power through ordinary legislation. This is usually done through an amendment to the primary legislation.

23.  The separation of powers doctrine in the Anglophone Caribbean requires Parliament to maintain effective control over delegated legislation through guidelines or a policy for the exercise of the power in the parent legislation, but the doctrine has not been understood to demand parliamentary oversight of delegated legislation.59

24.  There is a more general power to make regulations under the DRMA, outside of a declaration by the Prime Minister of a disaster and related orders made by the Prime Minister. These regulations require an affirmative resolution by Parliament.60 The Act also provides that the DRMA must be reviewed by a joint select committee of both Houses of Parliament no later than three years after its introduction.61 No such review has taken place to date.

25.  It was recommended that the DRMA be amended to include parliamentary oversight over orders made by the Prime Minister. However, although the amendments extend the law-making powers of the Prime Minister to the creation of new offences, they do not introduce greater parliamentary oversight.62

26.  The only parliamentary oversight afforded in the DRMA orders so far has been voluntary. Since April 2020, the Prime Minister brought the new measures before Parliament and gave parliamentarians an opportunity to ask questions and offer comments. In some instances, those discussions led to amendments to the orders and the amended form was gazetted. However, scrutiny of the pandemic measures was impaired by the failure on several occasions to circulate copies of the relevant DRMA order to parliamentarians prior to the discussion in Parliament.63

27.  In March 2020, an eight-member bipartisan Special Select Committee of the House of Representatives of Parliament was established to oversee the Government’s response to the pandemic, chaired by the Minister of Health and Wellness.64 The Committee includes five Government parliamentarians, including the chair and the Attorney General, and three Opposition parliamentarians. It had been the practice for about a decade to have Opposition parliamentarians chair key parliamentary oversight committees to strengthen accountability.65 The departure from that practice was criticised by members of the Parliamentary Opposition who argued that it served to weaken parliamentary oversight of the executive.66

28.  The Special Select Committee’s oversight work focused primarily on matters within the remit of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, such as public health measures, testing, infection rates, treatment protocols, and vaccination. The pandemic measures extend well beyond this focus to include, for example, matters related to law enforcement, social protection, and access to education and courts. The Committee has yet to publish any reports.

B.  The functioning of the legislature where its ordinary business is disrupted

29.  Both Houses of Parliament continued to meet regularly in person during the period. Temperature checking machines were installed at the entrances to the building and parliamentary chamber, sanitization stations were installed at various locations in the building, the parliamentary chamber was retrofitted with glass screens for Covid-19 health and safety, and seats were placed three feet apart. There were no virtual nor any hybrid sittings of either of the two Houses. Sittings of each chamber as well as sittings of parliamentary committees have been broadcast live via YouTube, as is the usual practice.67

30.  Several oversight and select parliamentary committees, including the Special Select Committee on Covid-19, met virtually during the pandemic.68 The Standing Orders for the House of Representatives provide that such committees can meet at such time and place as determined by the Speaker for the first meeting and the committee for subsequent meetings.69 The Senate Standing Orders Committee amended the Standing Orders to permit virtual meetings of its committees.70

31.  After the September 2020 general elections, the Prime Minister broke the tradition of allowing key parliamentary oversight committees to be chaired by opposition parliamentarians. Three of the four standing oversight parliamentary committees chaired by Government parliamentarians failed to meet during the four months following the elections.71 Concerns were also raised by members of the Parliamentary Opposition about the failure to reconstitute the Covid-19 Special Select Committee for four months following the September 2020 general elections.72

32.  Parliament was recalled from the summer recess ahead of the September 2020 general elections to obtain approval to end existing states of public emergency responding to high levels of serious crime.73 Parliament was dissolved on 13 August 2020 and the general elections were held on 3 September 2020.74 The new House of Representatives and Senate were sworn in on 15 September 2020 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, which temporarily housed Parliament for a few weeks while the permanent seat of Parliament at Gordon House was retrofitted for Covid-19 health and safety. There is no indication that the temporary move adversely impacted the legislature’s functioning. Parliament then went on Christmas break on 15 December 2020 and resumed on 12 January 2021. It was prorogued on 16 February 2021 ahead of the new fiscal year, which began with the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament on 18 February 2021.

C.  Role of and access to courts

33.  There was a brief closure of the courts in Jamaica between 13 and 16 March 2020.75 Thereafter, the various courts had different operational procedures. The ongoing operation of the superior courts was provided for through multiple practice directions issued by the Chief Justice in respect of the Supreme Court and President of the Court of Appeal in relation to the appellate court.76 Policy directives were also issued by the Court Administration Division, a Government department that answers to the Chief Justice, in respect of the summary jurisdiction of the Parish Courts.

34.  Most proceedings in the Court of Appeal have been conducted online since March 2020.77 Online proceedings have taken place in a range of criminal and civil matters in the Supreme Court since March 2020 with a slow re-introduction of some in-person proceedings and a shift from facilitating to requiring online proceedings in others.

35.  Following the initial closure of the Supreme Court, provision was made for emergency civil and criminal matters to be dealt with in remote hearings.78 Emergency criminal matters included applications for bail or habeas corpus and where a child was charged with a criminal offence.79 Emergency civil matters included cases involving the custody of children or expiration of limitation periods, or that were deemed by a judge to be an emergency upon application supported by affidavit.80

36.  Hearings in open court and in person trials in chambers were permitted in civil matters in the Supreme Court from July 2020 if they involved three or fewer parties, did not involve giving viva voce evidence, and featured no more than six attorneys.81 From September 2020, this limitation on the number of parties and attorneys involved in the dispute was removed.82 In civil cases where evidence is required to be given, provision is made for witnesses to do so remotely.83 Online proceedings are now required for the delivery of civil judgments in the Supreme Court, unless the judge decides otherwise.84 They are also used for interim proceedings in the revenue and commercial divisions and in all civil matters before a Master in chambers.85 Online proceedings can also be used for in-chamber hearings.86

37.  In-person, non-jury trials were permitted from June 2020 if no more than two defendants were involved.87 Remote hearings were permitted for handing down sentences and encouraged for non-jury trial of persons in custody.88 From September 2020, all judge-alone trials were permitted in person.89 In these trials, remote participation by persons in custody is possible if such persons intended to plead guilty, the prosecution intends to offer no evidence, or it is a sentencing hearing.90 Proceedings are done remotely where it involves case management, unless the judge orders otherwise, and attorneys are allowed to appear remotely for sentencing hearings.91

38.  Jury trials in the Supreme Court are required for several serious criminal offences, such as homicides. All jury trials were suspended in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.92 Dates for the resumption of jury trials in different geographical locations around Jamaica were announced in January 2021.93 The commencement of these trials was suspended a few weeks later.94 Subsequent attempts at resuming jury trials were abandoned and the latest practice directions on the subject indicate that jury trials are suspended until further notice.95 In 2015, the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act was amended to allow jury trials to be heard by a judge alone if the prosecution and the accused so agree.96 The Chief Justice has encouraged the use of judge alone trials as a means of continuing cases while jury trials are suspended.97

39.  The suspension of jury trials raises questions about the constitutional right to due process, which includes a criminal trial within a reasonable time.98 In 2018, the Supreme Court adopted an analytical framework to interpret reasonable time in which trial delays occasioned by periods of emergencies or natural disasters would not count against the state.99 When jury trials resume, superior courts will likely have to determine the implications of the pandemic delays on the due process right in various criminal jury trials.

40.  Online proceedings in the superior courts are generally conducted via Zoom. The practice directions provide that the Registry gives the electronic access link directly to the parties and those expected at the sittings, and that such links should not be distributed to others.100 The preamble to the Supreme Court’s Second Emergency Practice Directions acknowledged that the courts in Jamaica operate on the concept of open justice, then stated that the pandemic and measures to contain it ‘placed this concept under stress’, adding that ‘more than ordinary ingenuity will be required to navigate these new circumstances.’101

41.  In June 2020, it was reported that two appellants who appeared before the Court of Appeal in online proceedings filed a challenge to the constitutionality of the hearing on the ground that it was not conducted in public.102 The Constitution provides that all proceedings relating to the determination of a person’s civil rights and obligations must be held in public.103 However, courts can restrict public access to trials where they consider it ‘necessary or expedient’ or in the interests of ‘public safety’.104 More generally, guaranteed rights can be limited if it is ‘demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society’.105 Among other things, this demands proportionality between the sufficiently important objective to limit the right and the measures limiting the right.106 If the reported litigation comes to trial, a major question will be whether the least restrictive measures have been utilized to introduce online proceedings, and, notably, whether any special measures could have been introduced to give some accessibility to the public in online hearings, for example, by publishing the court list and allowing members of the public to approach the court for an invitation to an online hearing as recommended by Legg.107

42.  The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jamaica’s apex court, has facilitated and encouraged hearings by video-link.108 The public can access the hearings through a livestream. Two appeals from Jamaica have been heard by the Privy Council remotely during the pandemic.109

43.  In the summary jurisdiction of the parish courts, in person proceedings were initially suspended until 20 April 2020.110 Matters in relation to domestic violence, maintenance, breaches of the Quarantine Act, and cases involving children were to be treated as emergency matters during the suspension.111 These courts have made the least use of online proceedings. The implications of this for peoples access to the Parish Courts have not been fully studied but Parish Courts reported good clearance rates by the end of 2020 despite the pandemic.112 By the end of 2020, 93 per cent of the cases coming in on civil matters were cleared up; an improvement over the pre-Covid-19 period five years earlier.113 The Parish Courts are used mostly by persons in lower socio-economic groups,114 many of whom have limited access to the internet and technology. This may partly explain why Parish Courts have been effective without moving online. Notably, poor and vulnerable children have suffered ‘learning loss’ with the shift to online teaching and learning because of their limited access to the internet and technology.115

D.  Elections

44.  Jamaica does not have a fixed date for its general elections. Each government has a five-year term and the Prime Minister has the discretion to determine an earlier date for general elections.116 On 11 August 2020, the Prime Minister announced that general elections would be held on 3 September 2020, six months before the end of the Government’s five-year term. The timing of the elections and its implications for public health gave rise to significant public debate, especially because there was a spike in Covid-19 infections following two major public holidays in early August.117 Jamaica’s electoral system does not accommodate remote voting. General election campaigns in Jamaica also involve a high degree of in person campaigning and public events.

45.  A DRMA order was issued to regulate the conduct of the election campaign and it limited public events to drive-through processions.118 Groups conducting walkabouts and door to door campaigning were limited to teams of no more than five persons.119 Amidst evidence that the drive-through events did not involve appropriate social distancing, these events were further limited by the Prime Minister but the terms were ambiguous.120 On the one hand, the Prime Minister said that political motorcades were banned, but on the other signalled that motorcades could take place with two or less buses and without stopping to greet persons.

46.  All voters were required to wear a mask, submit to a temperature check, wash or sanitize their hands before entering the polling station, and observe physical distancing.121 The Minister of Health and Wellness initially said Covid-19-positive persons would not be allowed to vote.122 There was significant public debate concerning whether Covid-19-positive persons could lawfully be denied the right to vote.123 However, the Prime Minister promulgated a DRMA order shortly before the election, which permitted Covid-19-positive persons to leave isolation to vote during the last hour scheduled for voting.124 These persons were required to wear, in addition, a protective mask, a face shield, and gloves.125

47.  Voter turnout in September 2020 was the lowest on record since the 1983 general elections, which was boycotted by one of the two major political parties.126 Voter turnout has been consistently declining since 1997. Nevertheless, there was a marked drop in turnout from 53.17 per cent in 2011 and 48.37 per cent in 2016, to 37.85 per cent in 2020.127 The incumbent Government won a landslide 49 of 63 seats with 57 per cent of the total vote and 21 per cent of the total electorate, having won the previous general elections by a narrow three seat margin.128 Voter turnout has been attributed to health concerns as a result of Covid-19 and voter apathy due to persistent crime, poverty, and political corruption.129

48.  Local government elections, which were due 29 November 2020, were postponed and are now due by 27 February 2022. Postponement was effected through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act.130

E.  Scientific Advice

49.  The Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is responsible for gathering timely and authoritative information concerning the condition and trends in the quality of the natural and physical environment as they relate to the likelihood of disasters in each parish.131 The Director General must also analyse and interpret that information in order to formulate appropriate responses. ODPEM generates a report which details the hazard to health and safety that must precede the Prime Minister’s disaster area declaration under section 26 of the DRMA. This information is not published.

F.  Freedom of the press and freedom of information

50.  There have been few restrictions on the work of the press during the pandemic. The orders made under the DRMA, which give details of the nightly curfews, have consistently listed members of the media among the categories of persons exempt from curfews.132 One exception occurred in April 2020 when the Government made the parish of St. Catherine a quarantine area and members of the media were not listed as exempt. The Press Association of Jamaica, an independent press freedom watchdog, protested and the position was quickly reversed.133

51.  Weekly virtual press briefings are held by either the Minister of Health or the Office of the Prime Minister, streamed live, and the sessions uploaded onto social media sites for viewing. Questions are taken from the media.

52.  The laws affecting access to information have not been modified or suspended. The Access to Information Appeal Tribunal which hears appeals against the refusal or deferment of access to information held by the state has not met during the period but remained accessible for virtual hearings.134

G.  Ombuds and oversight bodies

53.  The Auditor General is a constitutionally established office mandated to examine annually the accounts of all Government departments for submission to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.135 The Auditor General completed three audits on the expenditure on the Government’s cash grant programme for individuals and business operators who have been financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, known as the Covid-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme.136

54.  The Political Ombudsman, which monitors the conduct of elections, encouraged greater enforcement by the police of Covid-19 guidelines during the campaign period.137 The Political Ombudsman conducted a review of the 2020 General Election by interviewing some members of the public. Some participants observed that very little effort was made by the relevant authorities or the candidates to ensure that supporters obeyed the Covid-19 health and safety guidelines and laws. Participants also noted that violations included large gatherings, breaches of social distancing guidelines, and motorcades.138

55.  The Government asked the Office of the Public Defender to review Covid-19 safety measures implemented at the prisons.139 The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) monitors the conduct of the security forces, namely the police, army, and correctional officers. The Government addressed INDECOM’s early concern about its exclusion from the list of organizations exempt from curfew requirements given the importance of its oversight work during the pandemic.140 INDECOM has not yet reported on the conduct of the security forces in the pandemic.

IV.  Public Health Measures, Enforcement and Compliance

A.  Public health measures

56.  The public health measures adopted in response to the pandemic were made primarily by way of orders promulgated by the Prime Minister under section 26 of the DRMA and policy guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Most of these measures applied on a national scale, with some community or parish-specific measures introduced as necessary. Many measures, especially related to mobility restrictions, became long term ones that were reiterated or revised in successive DRMA orders.

57.  The measures adopted were introduced in three key phases. The first commenced on 29 January 2020,141 at the onset of the pandemic, and intended to delay its arrival. These restrictions were primarily travel-related and took the form of directives issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. On 13 March 2020, the Prime Minister declared the entire island a disaster area after confirmation of local transmission,142 marking the beginning of the second phase. The second phase saw the introduction of restrictions intended to limit movement and gatherings. The island’s ports were closed to arriving passengers during this time. The third phase, which began on 7 May 2020 with the reopening of borders to non-nationals,143 saw notable relaxations in measures with intermittent tightening of restrictions in response to specific public health developments or around most public holidays. During this phase, the Government’s stated aim was to ‘balance lives and livelihoods.’144 The Prime Minister revoked the Order declaring Jamaica a disaster area on 18 March 2022.145

1.  Individual mobility restrictions on citizens (stay-at-home, curfews, etc)

58.  One of the earliest orders, following the declaration of Jamaica as a disaster area on 13 March 2020, quarantined the residents in the community associated with the first confirmed case for a period of 14 days.146 Similar parish- and community-specific quarantine zones were declared with respect to other geographical areas across the island during the second and third phases as infection rates soared in certain communities.

59.  Some form of national scale restriction on mobility has been sustained continuously by DRMA orders since 1 April 2020 through nightly curfews.147 At their most permissive, curfew hours ran from 11pm nightly until 5am the following morning.148 Curfew hours were most restrictive around public holidays. For the Labour Day holiday on 24 May 2020, for example, the curfew hours imposed were 3pm until 8am.149 The curfew hours were also periodically tightened in response to increases in Covid-19 rates of infection. For example, the nightly curfew was expanded by two hours on 10 February 2021 after the island recorded over 400 cases in a day for the first time.150

60.  Curfew orders have been subject to exceptions for persons employed in essential services, parliamentarians, the security forces, and members of the media, among others.151 Exemptions were also made for workers in key industries including those in tourist establishments and the sugar, bauxite and alumina, and business processing outsourcing industries.152

61.  Older persons faced the most stringent restrictions on their mobility through orders to remain at home, which allowed them to leave home once per day for food, medicine, and other necessities of life. The initial orders applied to persons aged 75 years and older, but various subsequent orders included persons as young as 60 years old.153

62.  Three types of work-from-home orders were made. At the beginning of the second phase, and again on 1 March 2021 as infection rates increased, public sector bodies were mandated to permit employees who can carry out duties from home to do so.154 The second more general work-from-home order introduced on 16 March 2020, which applied also to the private sector, was more ambiguous.155 It put a duty on an employer ‘if satisfied that an employee is able to discharge the duties of that employee from the employee’s place of residence, to grant the employee permission to do so without imposing any adverse consequences to the employee.’156 Notably, this order afforded employers wide discretion to assess which functions could be performed from home, provided no mechanism to monitor enforcement or penalties for breach, and was disarticulated from employment legislation and mechanisms for resolving employment disputes. These qualities made the order more akin to guidance to employers than binding and justiciable law. The third order made on 1 June 2020 allowed employees who were immunocompromised or who had no alternative arrangements for childcare or for the care of an older or sick charge to ask employers for permission to work from home.157

2.  Restrictions on international and internal travel

63.  In the first phase on 31 January 2020, following the WHO’s declaration that the novel coronavirus outbreak was a public health emergency of international concern, restrictions were placed on the entry into the country of non-nationals who had recently travelled to China.158 Similar restrictions were extended to Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran on 27 February, to Spain, France, and Germany on 10 March, and to the UK on 16 March 2020.159 Non-citizens who had travelled to these countries were subject to immediate quarantine in a Government facility for a minimum of 14 days.160 Under the Quarantine Act and its regulations, cruise lines were denied landing where their arrival posed a public health risk.161

64.  The aforementioned travel bans in January, February, and March 2020 were announced by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and they do not make reference to their legal basis. However, under the Public Health Act, the Minister of Health, on receipt of a report from the Central Health Committee established under the Act162 of conditions tending to endanger public health, and in the absence of appropriate laws to address the danger, has broad powers to make an island-wide order to prevent or mitigate the danger.163 The Attorney General is reported as having located the power to impose travel restrictions on foreigners in the Aliens Act 1946 and the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) Act 1945.164 The latter statute applies only to Commonwealth citizens,165 and the former permits an immigration officer to deny entry to an alien who is the subject of a certificate from a health officer that it is undesirable for the alien to be allowed to land because of medical reasons.166 Notably, the early restrictions also impacted Jamaicans. For instance, Jamaican cruise ship workers were not granted landing privileges when requested.167

65.  By a DRMA order, Jamaica closed its borders to all incoming passengers, regardless of nationality, from 25 March 2020 until 22 April 2020, with limited exceptions.168 Thereafter, Jamaicans were permitted to enter under a ‘controlled re-entry’ programme which sought to control the rate of entry of nationals. Under the programme, Jamaican nationals were required to apply for travel authorisation through a designated website and could only travel after receiving authorisation to do so.169 When the border reopened to non-nationals on 7 May 2020, they too were required to apply for travel authorisation.170

66.  By 5 August 2020, all returning residents were required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the level of risk.171 All persons required to quarantine were subject to monitoring via an electronic device.172 Persons entering the island as tourists were required to remain at their accommodations within the area along the island’s northern and south-western coasts designated as the Resilient Corridor.173 Business travellers who returned a negative test were required to stay at their accommodations, except to leave once per day for necessities of life or to conduct business.174

67.  On 21 December 2020, to guard against the Alpha variant first documented in the UK, persons arriving in Jamaica who had been in the UK in the previous two weeks were subject to mandatory State quarantine and testing.175 On 23 December 2020, direct travel from the UK was prohibited.176

3.  Limitations on public and private gatherings and events

68.  Caps on the number of participants in public gatherings have been maintained through the pandemic, beginning with 20 persons on 18 March 2020.177 During the period of relaxation of measures from 7 May 2020, exemptions were made for events like funerals and weddings to have up to 50 persons.178 For a short period from 21 July to 27 August 2020, outdoor events were permitted with a maximum of 250 patrons.179 Following record numbers of positive cases in February 2021, severe restrictions were again implemented beginning on 1 March 2021. These included the general prohibition of funeral services and burials (with limited exceptions for burials),180 weddings were capped at 25 persons, and religious gatherings could not exceed 10 persons.181

4.  Closure of premises and facilities (eg schools, shops, services, parks, churches, sport facilities)

69.  On 24 March 2020, educational institutions were ordered to close and most schools transitioned to online teaching.182 Secondary schools were reopened on 8 June 2020 to facilitate preparation for and taking of regional examinations.183 Some schools were reopened on a phased basis from 5 October 2020.184 Following the February 2021 spike, schools were again significantly restricted, and public schools were permitted to conduct face-to-face instruction only for students sitting exit examinations during the 2020–21 academic year.185 This restriction was extended to all private and independent schools as of 4 March 2021, except for students with special educational needs.186

70.  All places of entertainment were ordered to close on 18 March 2020.187 The following month, on 22 April 2020, public beaches, water attractions, and other attractions were also closed.188 Between 19 May and 15 July 2020, there was a gradual reopening of some of these facilities.189

5.  Physical distancing

71.  Guidance on physical distancing was first provided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness on 15 March 2020.190 The guidance progressed to a requirement in a DRMA order on 25 March 2020, which required persons at public gatherings to maintain a distance of three feet from other persons.191 This requirement was increased to six feet on 22 April 2020 and remains in force at the time of writing.192

6.  Use of face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE)

72.  Measures requiring the use of face coverings were introduced gradually during the second phase of the response. First, on 8 April 2020, persons who were aged 65 years or older, who had the flu or other respiratory illnesses, a comorbid illness, care of another person exhibiting respiratory symptoms, or who were suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19 were required to wear a face mask when in a public place.193 This requirement was expanded to employees of food establishments on 21 April 2020.194 By 22 April 2020, everyone was required to wear a face mask in public spaces, including workplaces and public passenger vehicles.195

7.  Isolation of infected individuals and quarantine of individuals suspected of infection

73.  The WHO’s IHRs 2005 define ‘isolation’ as the separation of ill or infected individuals and ‘quarantine’ as the restriction or separation of persons suspected of infection. The Jamaican orders use quarantine and isolation differently and applied both terminologies to persons who either tested positive for Covid-19 or were suspected of infection based on Covid-19-like symptoms. From 21 April 2020, persons in Jamaica who tested positive were required to quarantine at a facility designated by the Government or at home.196 The period of quarantine was generally 14 days. Additionally, persons who were ill with Covid-19 or who displayed Covid-19 symptoms were required to isolate from other persons within the quarantine facility or place of residence.197

8.  Testing, treatment, and vaccination

74.  In the first phase, described in Part IV.A above, only symptomatic persons were tested.198 Testing expanded to close contacts of confirmed cases as the Government’s testing capacity improved and, by 6 October 2020, some private facilities were authorized to test for Covid-19.199 Persons critically ill with Covid-19 were treated in designated public hospitals.

75.  From 22 April and 7 May 2020 respectively, DRMA orders mandated testing for Jamaicans re-entering Jamaica after controlled re-entry of nationals was permitted and for visitors arriving to the island.200 With increasing arrivals of non-nationals, the requirements changed from mandatory testing to the presentation of a negative Covid-19 test with their applications for entry authorisation. Initially, this requirement applied to all tourists arriving for stay in the Resilient Corridor or other non-business visitors determined to be high risk for transmission of the virus.201 By 11 March 2021, all arriving passengers, including Jamaican nationals and persons ordinarily resident in Jamaica, were required to present at the port of departure a Covid-19 negative test done no earlier than three days prior to departure.202

76.  Vaccination commenced on 10 March 2021, exactly one year after the first confirmed case in Jamaica.203 Frontline medical and health personnel as well as members of the security forces were the first priority groups for non-mandatory vaccination.204

9.  Contact tracing procedures

77.  In addition to the tracing of contacts of confirmed cases by public health officials through telephone contact and home visits, self-reporting became mandatory on 18 March 2020 for all persons who develop flu-like symptoms and who may have had contact with a person who travelled to a country affected by the virus, or who tested positive for the virus.205 The Ministry of Health set up a Covid-19 hotline for this purpose. No obligations were placed on venues, for example visitor centres or hospitality premises, to collect the information of visitors.

10.  Measures in long-term care facilities or homes for the elderly, restrictions on visitors etc.

78.  Since 18 March 2020, hospitals and nursing homes were required to limit each patient to one visit per day.206 Visitors to infirmaries, which house many indigent older persons, have been prohibited since 25 March 2020.207 Additionally, since that date, no patient of an infirmary has been allowed to go outside the facility, and no new patients have been admitted.208 As of 1 June 2020, employees of hospitals, nursing homes, and infirmaries were required to immediately report suspected exposure to the virus to their employer and to the Ministry of Health.209

B.  Enforcement and compliance

1.  Enforcement

79.  Enforcement of DRMA public health orders is mostly indirect. The personnel of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and public health officials are authorized officers under the DRMA.210 The Act gives authorized officers the power to direct the movement of persons, among other things, pursuant to a section 26 order made by the Prime Minister.211 Failure to comply with a direction given by an authorized officer, without a reasonable excuse, is an offence under the DRMA.212 Convictions for this offence attract a fine not exceeding $1 Million JMD (approximately $6800 USD) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.

80.  At least one member of the Parliamentary Opposition called for the DRMA to be amended to afford greater oversight.213 The DRMA was amended in 2021 to introduce an enforceable system of sanctions against persons who breach the public health measures.214 However, the amendment did not add parliamentary oversight of the Prime Minister’s legislative power.

81.  The JCF and public health officials worked in tandem to inspect premises and generally enforce public health measures.215 Under the DRMA orders, the JCF was also tasked with receiving electronic monitoring data for the purposes of enforcing quarantines.216 Monitoring of persons under quarantine orders was done either through an application that persons were required to download to their phones or via telephone calls in cases where persons had internet connectivity issues. The JDF played an important role in the enforcement of quarantine areas in identified communities.217 It also provided operational and logistics support for initiatives like the setting up of testing areas.218

2.  Compliance

82.  There is no reliable data on compliance with Covid-19 public health measures in Jamaica. There have been repeated expressions of concern about breaches of measures related to curfews, gatherings, social distancing, and the wearing of masks in public spaces, as well as calls for greater compliance by the public.219 Individuals have been arrested and charged for breaching orders on gatherings, the wearing of masks, and curfews.220 Given difficulties with enforcement, personal responsibility has been emphasized and the public has been asked to help with identifying persons who violate orders.221

V.  Social and Employment Protection Measures

A.  Social protection measures

83.  Jamaica’s economy is described by the World Bank as an upper middle-income economy which experiences low growth, high public debt, and is vulnerable to external shocks.222 Jamaica suffers from persistent poverty and high rates of unemployment, underemployment, and informal employment.223 In 2014, the annual value of Jamaica’s poverty line was estimated to be $169,044 JMD (approximately USD 1,150).224 Jamaica had a poverty rate of 12.6 per cent in 2018,225 and 11 per cent in 2019,226 which likely increased significantly during 2020.227 Jamaica calculates its poverty rate using a consumption methodology.228 The World Bank estimated an increase in the poverty rate to 23 per cent in 2020 as a result of Covid-19.229 Its unemployment rate, which stood at approximately 7.2 per cent in October 2019, rose to 10.7 per cent in October 2020.230 The unemployment rate which stood at 8.8 per cent as at January 2021, fell to 6.2 per cent as at January 2022.231 In 2014, it was estimated that 37.1 per cent of employed persons in Jamaica were in the informal sector.232 A joint 2020 study by UNICEF Jamaica and the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) reports a significant reduction in incomes as a result of the pandemic, with 50 per cent of the households in that study stating that they only had enough income or savings to sustain them for two weeks or less.233 The Government provided free but limited access to testing for Covid-19 and treatment for Covid-19-positive patients is administered at designated public hospitals.

1.  Social assistance

84.  Social protection during the pandemic was provided mainly through a fiscal stimulus package of tax reduction and a spending programme, whose value is approximately 0.5 per cent of GDP, dubbed the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme. There is no indication that the CARE Programme was specifically modelled on a programme elsewhere. CARE consists of largely new measures facilitated by new appropriation legislation to approve the radical changes in the budget and expenditures.234 Further legislation relaxed fiscal targets,235 and made changes in taxation.236 There is no indication that social actors or the parliamentary opposition played a significant role in crafting the stimulus measures. The parliamentary opposition supported the general thrust of the measures but criticised the Government for not increasing its level of support.237 Additionally, it asserted that some of the conditionalities meant that the programme was not accessible to some potential applicants, which the opposition argued was ‘entirely predictable, given the high level of informality in the Jamaican economy.’238 Following the announcement of the CARE Programme, the Government assembled a Covid-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, chaired by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, which included several other cabinet ministers, very strong private sector membership, representatives from the major economic industries, a civil society actor, and a representative of unions, but no opposition parliamentarians.239

85.  The measures, as detailed below, were aimed at improving the purchasing power of persons who had lost their income stream, providing relief to the poorest, and giving modest assistance to those in the informal economy.240 To date, there has been no litigation in relation to these measures.241 The Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) is Jamaica’s chief social assistance programme. Children from birth through to completion of tertiary level education, pregnant and lactating women, persons aged 60 years or older without a pension, persons certified to have permanent disabilities, and poor adults who are 18 to 59 years old can benefit from the programme. It is a conditional cash transfer programme which targets poor persons and families for assistance.242 Households with children receive $4,000 JMD (approximately USD 27) bi-monthly.243 All PATH recipients automatically received an additional payment during the period from April to June 2020.244 In 2010, PATH had 340,000 beneficiaries.245 In 2014, there were 372,751 beneficiaries on PATH.246 In 2017, there were approximately 354,000 registered beneficiaries.247 For the 2020 calendar year under the programme, 303,746 recipients of the 331,780 registered beneficiaries received at least one payment.248 The responsible Minister reported in Parliament that expenditure on the programme up to March 2021 for the 2020/2021 fiscal year represented a 40 per cent increase compared to amounts expended over the same period in the 2019/2020 fiscal year.249 In November 2021, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security announced that approximately 10,000 families adversely affected by Covid-19, that were not PATH beneficiaries, would benefit from cash transfers of $5,000 JMD (approximately USD 34) per month over the disbursement period from a USD 1.085 million donation by the World Food Programme.250 Additionally, in July 2022 the Minister of Finance announced a $3.8 billion JMD (approximately USD 25.8 million) social intervention package which will include back-to-school one-off grants for PATH students and for vulnerable students not on PATH.251

86.  The Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) programme formed part of CARE.252 It provided temporary cash transfers to individuals from any sector who had a taxable income of less than or equal to $1.5 million JMD (approximately USD 10,200) per annum, where it could be verified that they had lost their employment after 10 March 2020 (1 JMD = 0.0068 USD). Persons approved for payment under the programme received $18,000 JMD (approximately USD 122) monthly. Initially set to run for three months from April 2020, the programme ran for nine months in 2020.253 The Government added three payments from June to August 2021,254 and a one-off payment for persons who received the August 2021 sum and remained out of work at the end of September 2021.255 No cash-for-work schemes were introduced.

87.  CARE also included Covid-19 General Grants which were one-off payments to certain categories of self-employed earners.256 Barbers, hairdressers, beauty therapists, cosmetologists, market vendors, and licenced taxi and bus operators received $25,000 JMD (approximately USD 170). Registered bar and night club operators, craft vendors, and registered bus tour operators received $40,000 JMD (approximately USD 272).

88.  The Compassionate Grant in CARE provided a one-off payment of $10,000 JMD (approximately USD 68) to anyone in need—including tertiary students, the unemployed, informally employed, the elderly, and pensioners—who was not formally employed and had not received—and did not intend to apply for—any other cash benefit under the CARE Programme, with the exception of the Covid-19 PATH Grant.257 Of the more than 500,000 applications to the CARE Programme, 401,314 were for the Compassionate Grant.258 The Ministry of Finance and the public service closed applications for the programme early, indicating that it could not allow applications to far exceed the budget allocated.259

89.  Non-contributory social pension coverage is low.260 Estimates in 2021 placed the number of persons over 60 living in Jamaica at 355,574.261 As discussed below, contributory pension coverage is also low, which puts the need for non-contributory social pensions into sharp relief. PATH provides cash transfers to some persons aged 60 years or over who are not receiving a pension otherwise. It is estimated that 42 per cent of persons over 60 are not in receipt of either the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pension or social assistance through PATH or Poor Relief.262 In February 2021, the Cabinet gave approval for the immediate implementation of a social pension targeting non-pensioners who are 75 years and older in order to try to close the coverage gap.263 The programme was launched in August 2021. Beneficiaries receive a sum of $3,400 JMD (approximately USD 23) monthly.264 In December 2021 the Ministry of Labour and Social Security reported that the programme which has an annual budget of $800 million JMD (approximately USD 5.4 million) was undersubscribed and urged greater enrolment.265 In March 2022, the Government had made payments to 7,412 recipients and hopes to increase the number to 20,000 by the end of the 2022/2023 financial year.266

The shift to virtual learning during the pandemic spotlighted the lack of access to electronic learning devices faced by many students. This was the case despite the fact that the Government had instituted a large-scale project years prior to the pandemic meant to equip teachers and students with devices. The project has however been plagued by implementation issues.267 Some tablets were distributed to teachers and students during the period of the pandemic as a form of in-kind assistance.268 Under another programme, 36,000 students in need were to receive electronic vouchers (e-Vouchers) valued at $20,000 JMD for the purchase of a laptop at approved vendors.269 During May 2021, the Minister of Education announced that of the 20,207 vouchers issued, only 9,524 had been redeemed.270 However, the Government discontinued the programme. The Government also provided some PATH students with tablets.271

2.  Social insurance

90.  Jamaica does not have a general unemployment benefits scheme.272 In June 2021, the Minister of Finance estimated that approximately 40,000 persons who became unemployed as a result of the pandemic received cash transfers under the SET Cash aspect of the CARE programme.273

91.  The Holiday With Pay Order 1973 provides paid sick leave for non-casual and casual workers.274 A worker is entitled to two weeks of paid sick leave, at the worker’s normal wage rate, after one year of employment.275 Workers cannot contract out of their entitlements under the Order.276 Workers who contracted Covid-19 could avail themselves of their existing entitlements. There have been no reforms to the Holiday with Pay legislation in relation to sick leave since the pandemic to give formal protection to workers who had already exhausted their entitlements. There have been calls for reform to the legislative framework for sick leave to take into account the impact of Covid-19-related illnesses, quarantine requirements, and caregiving duties.277 To-date there has been no law reform in this area.

92.  All employed and self-employed persons between 18 and 70 years are required to register with and make contributions to the National Insurance Scheme.278 Others may participate in the scheme via voluntary contributions. The Scheme provides a pension on retirement. According to the 2017 Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions, more than 60 per cent of persons aged 60 years and over did not receive a pension.279 Only 25.1 per cent of those 60 years and older reported that they were receiving a pension under the NIS.280 NIS coverage is low because of the large size of the informal economy and unemployment.281 Of those receiving pensions, 33.3 per cent were receiving less than $10,000 JMD (approximately USD 68) monthly, and just under 33.3 per cent received over $60,000 JMD (approximately USD 408) monthly.282 To-date there has been no law reform in this area.

93.  Legislation regulates occupational pension schemes for public and private sector workers.283 There have been no reforms to pension legislation to provide flexibility in withdrawing savings in pension funds amidst the economic hardships faced during the pandemic.284

94.  Jamaica does not have universal health care. It is aiming towards it through the National Health Fund (NHF) established in 2003 under the National Health Fund Act which, among other things, operates a drug subsidy programme.285 Jamaica also abolished user fees at public health institutions in 2008.286 It is estimated that only 20 per cent of the Jamaican work force has health insurance.287 The Government provided free but limited access to testing for Covid-19 and treatment for Covid-19-positive patients is being administered at designated public hospitals.

3.  Tax relief and other social measures

95.  The Covid-19 tax measures comprised a reduction in the rate of the General Consumption Tax from 16.5 per cent to 15 per cent,288 a tax credit for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME),289 and a reduction in export-related charges on certain commodities.290

96.  The Covid-19 Student Loan Relief measure provided deferrals of student loan principal and interest payments and a waiver of late fees for the period of April to June 2020 on loans currently in repayment to the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB).291 For loans in moratorium, the SLB extended the moratorium period from six to 14 months after graduation.

97.  The National Housing Trust (NHT)292 provided a moratorium on all loan payments for three months, a reduction in interest rates on new loans by one per cent, and a reduction in all existing loans by 0.5 per cent.293 No other forms of housing support were provided.

B.  Employment protection measures

98.  Two CARE Programmes gave temporary and modest employment protection—the BEST Cash and the, separate, Small Business Grants. The measures included efforts to protect businesses, especially in tourism and agriculture, which are major employment sectors. Tourism directly contributed 9.8 per cent to GDP in 2019 and is Jamaica’s chief source of foreign exchange. Agriculture employs about 15 per cent of the labour force and accounts for seven per cent of GDP.294 Notably, there was no major reform in employment law.

1.  Economic support for employers

99.  The BEST Cash programme provided temporary cash transfers to registered businesses operating within the tourism industry based on the number of workers they kept employed who were at or under the income tax threshold of $1.5 million JMD per annum.295 Businesses approved for support under the programme received $18,000 JMD (approximately USD 122) monthly for each of those workers. There was no correlation between the workers’ regular salary and the sums transferred. Initially set to run for just three months, recipients received payments for nine months during 2020.296 The Government added three payments in 2021.297

100.  Businesses and self-employed persons operating in the tourism sector, including hotels, attractions, and tours, registered with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCO) received one-off payments of varying sizes from a pool of $1.2 billion JMD (approximately USD 7.9 million) allocated under the Tourism Grant.298 Businesses were not required to prove that they had employees in order to access this grant.

101.  Under the Small Business Grants programme, businesses with sales of $50 million JMD (approximately USD 340,000) or less, that filed taxes in the 2019/20 financial year and payroll returns indicating that they have employees, received a one-time payment of $100,000 JMD (approximately USD 680).299

102.  During the pandemic, the Government announced various interventions for farmers and fisherfolk. Under the Buy-Back programme, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries helped farmers who lost their markets—largely due to the closure of hotels as a result of the pandemic—to sell their produce by purchasing the items and reselling them at pop-up farmers markets around the country and distributing them to children’s homes and communities in quarantine areas.300 Additional sums were allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Production Incentive Programme, which was created prior to the pandemic to boost agricultural production in various areas by securing various inputs for farmers and fisherfolk.301

2.  Worker protection from dismissal and other contractual protections

103.  There have been no statutory reforms aimed at altering existing laws regarding the termination of employment and workers’ entitlement to severance payments since the pandemic.

104.  A worker is entitled to a redundancy payment if dismissed after two years of continuous employment with an employer.302 The Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Act allows an employer to temporarily lay off workers without pay for 120 days.303 If the layoff extends beyond that period, the worker can elect to be regarded as dismissed by reason of redundancy.304 In that case, the worker becomes entitled to redundancy payments in accordance with the Act, upon giving notice of that election. The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association requested that the Government extend the lay off period beyond 120 days, but the Ministry of Labour encouraged employers and employees to renegotiate terms of employment in light of the pandemic.305

3.  Other worker protections

There has been no statutory reform adding to existing protections available to workers since the pandemic. The Government’s primary mode of protecting workers was via cash transfers, irrespective of whether workers were employees or self-employed. None of the measures implemented was geared towards supporting short-time working arrangements.

4.  Health and safety

105.  Several Disaster Risk Management Act 2015 (DRMA) orders required workplaces to take steps to safeguard health and safety.306 Those steps included providing facilities for washing or sanitizing hands, ensuring at least six feet of social distancing where reasonably practicable, and ensuring that effective ventilation systems are in operation.307 These requirements were not readily enforceable by employees. Jamaica has not enacted occupational health and safety legislation. The proposed Occupational Safety and Health Bill 2017 would have imposed a stronger regulatory framework for safety at work and would have given employees greater protection to refuse to undertake unsafe or dangerous work by making express their right to do so and by providing protections against victimisation by employers.308 In practice, Jamaican workers exercise a right of industrial action and enjoy some protection from ‘unjustifiable dismissals’.309 However, in law, strike actions amount to repudiatory breach of the contract of employment which could lead to lost wages. Various stakeholders—including private sector, trade union representatives, and advocates for persons living with HIV and AIDS—through the years have called upon successive administrations to prioritise the enactment of occupational health and safety legislation.310 The current responsible Minister has promised that the bill will be brought to Parliament for the 2022/2023 parliamentary year.311 However, similar promises have been made in the past and yet, to-date, administrations on both sides of Jamaica’s political divide have failed to deliver on those promises. 312

5.  Activation

106.  There is no relevant information to be reported.

6.  Social partners

107.  There is no relevant information to be reported.

7.  Other legal measures

108.  There is no relevant information to be reported.

VI.  Human Rights and Vulnerable Groups

A.  Civil liberties

109.  Curfew orders, quarantine and isolation orders, and restrictions on gatherings (discussed in Part IV.A above) had implications for the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to freedom of movement.313 Early measures barring citizens from entering the country after a specified date caused significant hardship to many Jamaicans overseas and gave rise to sustained debate about whether this restriction on freedom of movement was demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.314 Many Jamaicans were stranded in foreign countries as a result, including seasonal workers, cruise ship workers, and students.315 The threat of legal action by some Jamaican ship workers stranded aboard a ship dissipated after the workers were given leave to re-enter.316 Freedom of religion has been impacted by the restrictions on religious gatherings.317 On occasion, church leaders and members have found themselves in conflict with law enforcement as this measure was enforced. 318 There has been no suppression of dissent or of the small protests which have been held against mask wearing,319 vaccines,320 and against some measures which inhibited economic activity.321

B.  Privacy

110.  The Constitution guarantees the right of everyone to respect for and protection of their private and family life and the protection of privacy of other property and of communication.322 A Disaster Risk Management Act 2015 (DRMA) order introduced restrictions on the publication of information that discloses the identity of persons who tested positive for Covid-19 and their health workers in April 2020. However, these restrictions are not directly backed by sanctions.323 Other measures, such as social assistance measures, require the submission of personal data. Persons seeking to enter Jamaica were required to apply for entry via dedicated websites.324 Recently enacted data protection legislation, which could better safeguard privacy rights, is not yet fully in effect.325 Exercising his power under section 1 of the Data Protection Act, the responsible Minister brought specified sections of the Act into effect on 30 November 2021 which begin the process of operationalising it.326 The responsible Minister has said that the regulations necessary for completing the operationalisation of the Act will be completed by September 2022.327 In February 2021, reports revealed that the personal information of thousands of travellers using the websites was exposed, including ‘check-in’ videos, immigration documents, and Covid-19 test results.328

111.  Beginning on 15 June 2020, all persons required to quarantine were subject to monitoring of their health status and location.329 This measure remained in place until 28 February 2022.330 The JamCovid app, which persons under quarantine orders were required to download to their mobile devices,331 generated location data332 and users monitored and put in their temperature. Local health officials monitored the health of persons under such orders via telephone calls. Technical personnel responsible for implementing the monitoring could only by law disclose data to a member of the police force designated by the Commissioner of police who was not below the rank of Inspector and a Medical Officer.333 The relevant DRMA orders provided that the electronic monitoring must be terminated following the expiration of the quarantine period and that the information obtained must be stored in a secure manner for the duration of the quarantine, must be accessible only by relevant personnel, and should be deleted upon the expiration of the quarantine.334

C.  Gender

112.  The Covid-19 pandemic had significant adverse social and economic implications for women, exacerbating existing gender inequalities. Women’s participation in frontline industries such as education, health, and social work, far outstrips participation by men.335 While men would have borne the greater share of Covid-19’s impact on the informal sector, women bore the greater share of its impact on the service industry.336 Between October 2019 and October 2020, women’s unemployment grew at a faster rate than men’s,337 increasing by approximately 4.4 per cent, whereas male unemployment increased by approximately 2.7 per cent. This is in a context where the unemployment rate for women is consistently higher than that of men.338 Women benefited slightly more than men from the eventual fall in the unemployment rate, with women accounting for 53.1 per cent of the increase in employment from April 2021 to April 2022.339

113.  Poor women, who are disadvantaged by the burden of unpaid care work, are reported to have had an increased burden of unpaid care work since the onset of the pandemic.340 The joint UNICEF/CAPRI study reports a greater loss in income for female-headed households caused by the pandemic.341 The social protection measures introduced offered no direct relief for the added burden of unpaid care work, especially in relation to children.

114.  Although there is no reliable data on the prevalence of violence against women, including intimate partner violence, either before or during the pandemic, 342 the Minister of Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sports advised the House of Representatives of an increase in domestic violence cases and noted that the ‘stay-at-home measures that countries have had to implement had the unfortunate side effect of having women and children locked up with their abusers, sometimes without access to family or friends or an opportunity to call for help.’343 The Government opened two long-awaited State-run shelters for survivors of domestic violence; the first in November 2020344 and the second in December 2021.345

115.  The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights noted in 2012 that ‘[p]olice officers are averse to enforcing laws related to domestic violence, which results in the victims’ mistrust of the law enforcement system.’346 In a reported incident in November 2020, a survivor of domestic violence fled her abuser during curfew hours and went to a nearby police station to report abuse, only to be turned away and asked to return outside curfew hours.347 Following media reports of the incident, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and INDECOM announced the launch of investigations and the Police Commissioner indicated that police stations would remain open for 24-hour service.348 However, it must be noted that the incident is consistent with persistent due diligence failures.349

116.  The discrimination and vulnerability faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer persons (LGBTQ) persons in Jamaica, especially those who are poor, has worsened in the crisis. An online survey carried out in April 2020 by a group of organisations working on behalf of LGBTQ persons in Jamaica found that almost one in four respondents had lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and 29 per cent were unable to pay rent and other bills.350 There are limited employment opportunities available to transgender women in particular. Many are engaged in sex work or work in the entertainment industry, both of which have been severely impacted by the curfew restrictions.351 In December 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said that Jamaica’s laws criminalising same-sex sex violated its obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights and called on Jamaica to repeal these laws and adopt comprehensive antidiscrimination legislation and apply due diligence in the prevention, investigation, punishment, and reparation of violence against LGBTQ persons.352

D.  Ethnicity and race

117.  There is no relevant information to be reported.

E.  Disability

118.  Persons with disabilities have a greater likelihood to live in poorer households than those without.353 Educational attainment is limited for persons from poor households and they experience higher levels of unemployment than persons without disabilities.354 Jamaica’s Disabilities Act 2014 came into effect on 14 February 2022.355 Thus, persons with disabilities did not have the benefit, during the height of the pandemic, of its provisions which aim at quelling discrimination against such persons.356 The pandemic has further exposed the vulnerabilities of many persons with disabilities and the inadequacies in existing systems, including in special needs education.357

119.  Some persons with disabilities are covered by PATH and thus also benefited from the recent one-off cash transfer under the CARE Programme to persons with disabilities (see Part V.A.1 above).358 The Combined Disabilities Association (CDA), an NGO advocacy group, indicated that conditioning eligibility on registration with the Jamaica Council of Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) disenfranchised a large number of people in need, since only a fraction of persons with disabilities are registered with the JCPD. Registration requires certification by a medical doctor or health care professional who is competent to make the disability assessment. The CDA’s Director explained that the requirement operated as a barrier to registration and access to the grant.359

120.  DRMA orders containing workplace measures provided that employees could request the permission of their employer to work from home in order to care for a family member with a disability as defined in the Disabilities Act.360 These employment measures were not backed by sanctions.

121.  With the exception of the DRMA order of 1 March 2021, none of the orders governing the operation of educational institutions made special provision for the education of students with special needs.361 That order provided for face-to-face instruction for students who will sat exit exams during the 2020/21 academic year and for students with special educational needs.362

F.  Elderly

122.  The Government adopted a variety of measures concerning the employment, safety, and care of older persons (see in particular, Part IV.A.1 above). This group has faced the most restrictive stay-at-home DRMA orders, which are aimed at reducing their risk of contracting Covid-19. Nonetheless, there were concerns about the effect of prolonged periods of isolation, and the increased risk of abuse and neglect where there are limited opportunities to engage with their support networks.363 Older persons are among the early priority groups for vaccination. On 9 March 2021, the Government announced plans to institute a Conditional Cash Transfer programme as an incentive for older persons to be vaccinated.364

G.  Children

123.  The Constitution provides that children are entitled to such measures of protection as are required by virtue of the status of being a minor or as part of the family, society, and the State.365 As discussed in Part III.C above, courts have prioritized all matters relating to children for speedy and effective resolution.

124.  Children’s constitutional right to publicly funded tuition in a public educational institution at the pre-primary and primary levels was severely impaired during the pandemic.366 The shifts to online teaching and learning exposed the digital divide which runs along rural-urban and socioeconomic lines.367 Here the pandemic spotlighted and worsened existing inequalities.368 According to UNICEF, children in 34 per cent of households do not have exclusive access to an internet device for education purposes.369 One rural area respondent in a 2021 Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) study pointed to the multiple ways in which children and families were adversely impacted by the shift to online teaching and learning:

Up here we struggle to access the network. However, even if the service was available I cannot afford it. My husband and I can barely provide food for our children and pay bills; we cannot afford additional cost and we do not have computers, etc. I would prefer a shift system at the school instead of closing it and having the children at home with nothing to do. At school, the children would receive a hot meal and this helps to reduce the pressure on me.370

125.  The pandemic also brought into focus the ineffective implementation of existing programmes for the distribution of tablets as well as the weak broadband infrastructure in schools.371 In response, the Government, among other things, provided some schools in remote areas with internet access,372 launched an educational channel dedicated to delivery of educational content,373 and provided additional internet devices to some students and teachers. Notwithstanding those interventions, it is widely accepted that there has been significant learning loss for all children, especially the poorest.374

126.  Preliminary findings from a UNICEF and CAPRI study on the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on Jamaican children indicates that 15 per cent of households surveyed reported an increase in spanking children and 41 per cent of households surveyed indicated that there was an increase in the frequency of shouting at children.375 The Paediatric Association of Jamaica reported an increase in cases of child sex abuse during the pandemic,376 while the National Children’s Registry indicated a decline in reports of abuse in 2020.377 Since the mechanisms for discovery of abuse and access to reporting are weakened in the crisis, the discrepancy may signal, as the Children’s Advocate suggests, less reporting and not less violence.378

H.  Prisoners

127.  There have been outbreaks of Covid-19 and related deaths in correctional facilities.379 When concerns were raised early in the pandemic about the spread of Covid-19 in overcrowded correctional institutions, the Government rejected calls to grant early release in some cases to reduce the risk of an outbreak in the prison population.380 The Department of Correctional Services reported in October 2021 that 332 inmates and 290 staff members had recovered from the virus and that seven inmates and four officers died from the virus.381 There are approximately 4,000 inmates in Jamaica’s prison population.382 The Department of Correctional Services reported that it adopted measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Those included temperature checks for all persons entering the institutions, the implementation of handwashing and sanitization stations along with the provision of thermometers and sanitizing agents at all correctional institutions.383 Additionally, cloth masks were prohibited, and surgical masks distributed to inmates and officers. Inmates in one correctional facility reported continued overcrowding and that inmates who tested negative for Covid-19 were mixed in with others who showed signs of possible infection.384

128.  Since 6 May 2020, access to persons incarcerated in correctional institutions was limited to members of staff of the correctional institution, attorneys representing inmates, and health care providers.385 An advocacy group called for communication between inmates and their families to be facilitated using online tools.386 Non-contact visits were resumed in March 2022.387 There was no special guidance on habeas corpus during the reporting period.

129.  Jamaica has high rates of pre-trial detention.388 The earliest practice directions from the courts, considered in Part III.C above, sought to protect the right to liberty by ensuring that even during periods of closure or reduced service, bail hearings were dealt with as emergency matters.389 Persons on bail who were scheduled to return to court during periods of closure had their bail automatically extended, and when the parish of St Catherine was made a quarantine area, bail reporting conditions were suspended.390 Additionally the Supreme Court and some parish courts shifted to videoconferencing for bail hearings.391 In a few instances where some parish courts could not accommodate those applications, directions were given for matters to be heard by the Supreme Court instead.392

I.  Non-citizens

130.  Save for the establishment of resilient corridors along the ‘North Coast and South Coast to encourage safe tourism practices through delivery of service that conforms to a rigorous set of tourism, health and safety protocols’, there have been no special measures related to permanent residents, migrant workers, or refugees.393

J.  Indigenous peoples

131.  There is no relevant information to be reported.

Gabrielle Elliott-Williams, The University of the West Indies, Mona

Tracy Robinson, The University of the West Indies, Mona

Kamille Adair Morgan

Jeffrey Foreman, The University of the West Indies, Mona

Dionne Jackson-Miller, The University of the West Indies, Mona

Tenesha Myrie, The University of the West Indies, Mona

The authors would like to acknowledge Susan Goffe for her contribution.

Footnotes:

1  See Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Thursday, December 31, 2020’ (1 January 2021).

2  See Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Monday, August 31, 2020’ (31 August 2020); Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Saturday, 31 October 2020’ (1 November 2020).

3  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Sunday, January 31, 2021’ (1 February 2021).

4  See Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Tuesday, August 31, 2021’ (1 September 2021); Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Sunday, 31 October 2021’ (1 November 2021).

5  See Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Friday, December 31, 2021’ (1 January 2022).

6  See Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Friday, September 30, 20212’ (3 October 2022).

7  COVID data suggest a plateauing of cases - Bisasor McKenzie’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 1 April 2021).

8  “Red alert”…13 hospitals exceed COVID isolation capacity’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 23 February 2021); Cornwall Regional Hospital out of COVID-19 Bed Space’ Radio Jamaica News (Online, 22 February 2021); A Morris, ‘Spanish Town Gets Field Hospital for Covid-19 Patients’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 10 April 2021).

9  Public Health Nurse First to get Covid Vaccine in Jamaica’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 10 March 2021).

10  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Vaccination Tracker’ (accessed 2 December 2022); T Robinson, G Elliott-Williams, and A Bulkan, ‘Public Law in Private Employment: Vaccination Policies Reach the Courts of Jamaica’, Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 (25 February 2022).

18  Constitution of Jamaica 1962, s 20(2)(c).

21  See C Patterson, ‘Senate Approves Extension of States of Public Emergency’, Jamaica Information Service (26 July 2020).

22  PM’s Statement to Parliament on the Expiration of the States of Emergencies’, Jamaica Information Service (8 January 2019).

23  See Everton Douglas v Attorney General [2020] JMSC Civ 267 (Supreme Ct), this case is on appeal to the Court of Appeal.

27  Constitution of Jamaica 1962, ss 19, 20(5).

29  AG responds to Critics on Laws to Address the Covid-19 Pandemic’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 28 March 2020); PNP urges Gov't to Declare SOE in Response to Covid-19’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 30 March 2020); M Hylton, ‘Michael Hylton disagrees with Dr Lloyd Barnett’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 29 March 2020).

30  PNP urges Gov't to Declare SOE in Response to Covid-19’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 30 March 2020); A Saunders, ‘Opposition stands with Gov’t in Covid-19 fight’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 2 April 2020); Phillips Reiterates call for Islandwide State of Emergency’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 21 April 2020).

31  OAS Department of International Law, ‘Recent Suspensions of Guarantees Regarding Multilateral Treaties’ (accessed 19 August 2021); UNTC, ‘Status of Treaties’ (accessed 19 August 2021).

33  World Health Organization, ‘COVAX’ (accessed 19 August 2021) is an initiative to ensure equitable global access to a vaccine co-led by the WHO, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; New Highly Contagious Strain of COVID-19 now in Jamaica’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 3 January 2021).

34  Boyce v R [2004] UKPC 32 (2004) 64 WIR 37 (Privy Council, Barbados).

35  T Robinson et al, Fundamentals of Caribbean Constitutional Law (1st edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2015) 158.

37  DRMA.

38  DRMA, s 26(1).

39  DRMA, s 26(2).

40  DRMA, s 26(8).

41  DRMA, s 26(2).

42  DRMA, s 26(2).

43  DRMA, s 26(3).

45  See Public Health Act 1985, ss 18, 19.

52  Sabapathee v The State [1999] UKPC 31, [1999] 1 WLR 1836 (Privy Council, Mauritius); McEwan v Attorney General [2018] CCJ 30 (AJ), 94 WIR 332 (Caribbean Court of Justice, Guyana).

53  The Sunday Times v United Kingdom (Series A No 30) (1979–80) 2 EHRR 245 (26 April 1979) (European Court of Human Rights).

54  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘COVID-19 Resources and Protocols’ (March 2020–March 2021).

56  Interpretation Act 1968, s 30 (2)(3)(4)(5).

57  Interpretation Act 1968, s 30(2)(3).

58  Interpretation Act 1968, s 30(4)(5).

59  Astaphan v Comptroller of Customs (1996) 54 WIR 153, (1999) 2 LRC 569 (Court of Appeal, Dominica).

60  DRMA, ss 54(2), 55.

61  DRMA, s 57.

62  Editorial, ‘Uneasy with Disaster Law Amendment’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 26 March 2021); see Disaster Risk Management (Amendment) Act 2021.

63  See eg Sitting of the House of Representatives’ Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (YouTube, 21 April 2020); and Sitting of the House of Representatives’ Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (YouTube, 16 June 2020).

64  D McIntosh, ‘Special Committee of Parliament to Oversee response to Covid-19’, Jamaica Information Service (24 March 2020).

66  Government scraps Golding Chairmanship Tradition’ Jamaica Gleaner (30 September 2020); Resurrect Covid-19 Committee, Golding Appeals’ Jamaica Gleaner (11 November 2020).

67  Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) (YouTube, accessed 19 August 2021).

72  Resurrect COVID-19 Committee, Golding Appeals’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 11 November 2020).

73  More SOEs possible before Election’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 8 July 2020).

75  Court Administration Division, ‘Closure of Courts Islandwide’ (13 March 2020).

78  Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica Practice Direction Amended Third COVID-19 Emergency Directions (4 May 2020), [6]–[9], [15]–[19], [30]–[33], [43]–[46], [57]–[60].

84  Practice Direction (No. 4) of 2021 (5 January 2021), [21].

98  Constitution of Jamaica 1962, ss 14(3), 16(1).

99  Cameron v Attorney General [2018] JMFC Full 1 (Supreme Ct), [148].

102  J Reynolds, ‘Cops challenge constitutionality of appeal hearing via Zoom’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 2 June 2020).

106  Robinson v Attorney General [2019] JMFC Full 04 (Supreme Ct).

107  M Legg, ‘The Covid-19 Pandemic, The Courts and Online Hearings: Maintaining Open Justice, Procedural Fairness and Impartiality’ (2021) 49(2) Federal Law Review 161.

108  Fishermen and Friends of the Sea v The Minister of Planning, Housing and the Environment [2017] UKPC 37 (Privy Council, Trinidad and Tobago).

109  Powell v Spence [2021] UKPC 5 (Privy Council, Jamaica); Hinds and others v Director of Public Prosecutions [2021] UKPC 10 (Privy Council, Jamaica).

110  Court Administration Division, ‘Parish Court Sittings Adjourned until April 20, 2020 to Minimise Impact of Covid-19’ (Press Release, 20 March 2020).

111  Court Administration Division, ‘Parish Court Sittings Adjourned until April 20, 2020 to Minimise Impact of Covid-19’ (Press Release, 20 March 2020).

112  Twila Wheelan, ‘Parish Courts Increase Clearance Rates Despite Covid’, Jamaica Information Service (23 March 2021).

113  Twila Wheelan, ‘Parish Courts Increase Clearance Rates Despite Covid’, Jamaica Information Service (23 March 2021).

114  G Cumper, S Daly, Family Law in the Commonwealth Caribbean (Department of Extra Mural Studies, University of the West Indies 1979) 10; Mindie Lazarus-Black, ‘Why Women Take Men to Magistrate’s Court: Caribbean Kinship Ideology and Law’ (1991) 30(2) Ethnology 119, 124.

115  CAPRI, ‘Locked Down, Locked Out: Vulnerable Communities in the Pandemic’ (CAPRI 2021) 1, 15; C Thomas, ‘Face-to-face Shutdown “Inevitable”: COVID Spike in February Shattered Resumption Index, Says JTA’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 23 March 2021); C Serju, ‘“Massive Intervention” Needed For Education Reset: Some Students Will Have to Repeat, Says Williams; PEP Scaled Down’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 12 March 2021).

116  Constitution of Jamaica 1962, ss 64, 65.

117  PNP blames Holness for Covid Spike Risk’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 22 August 2020).

120  See K Williams, ‘Motorcade Prohibition, Physical Distancing Non-existent: In JLP Drive-through’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 24 August 2020).

122  COVID-19 Poses Voting Dilemma’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 23 August 2020); see also COVID-19 Patients could be Arrested if they go to the Polls’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 30 August 2020).

123  Erica Virtue, ‘Coronavirus Could Threaten Voting Rights’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 9 August 2020); Corey Robinson, ‘Covid-19 Poses Dilemma’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 23 August 2020).

126  J Byron et al, ‘Impacts of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth Caribbean: Key Lessons’ (2021) 110 The Round Table 99, 108.

127  Electoral Commission of Jamaica, ‘Parliamentary Elections: 1944–2020’ (accessed 19 August 2021).

128  Electoral Commission of Jamaica, ‘Parliamentary Elections: 1944–2020’ (accessed 19 August 2021).

129  Behind that Unprecedented 37 per cent Voter Turnout’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 17 September 2020); Editorial, ‘Attacking Voter Cynicism’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 11 September 2020).

130  Representation of the People (Postponement of Elections to Municipal Corporations and City Municipalities) Act 2020; B Henry, ‘In the Nick of Time’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 1 December 2020); Local Government Elections Postponed’, Jamaica Information Service (28 November 2020).

131  DRMA, s 8.

133  Journalists get all-clear to move about in St Catherine lockdown’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 17 April 2020).

134  Email from R Anderson, Chairman of ATI Appeal Tribunal, to author (5 April 2021) (on file with author).

137  Ombudsman looks to Police to help encourage Voter Turnout in COVID Atmosphere’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 23 August 2020).

138  Office of the Political Ombudsman, 2020 General Election Campaign Review Report (2021), 24.

140  Independent Commission of Investigations, ‘INDECOM Seeks Inclusion in Exemption from Curfew Order’ (2 April 2020).

141  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘No Coronavirus here’ (29 January 2020).

144  See Office of the Prime Minister Communications, ‘Labour Day Message 2020’ (26 May 2020).

145  Office of the Prime Minister Communications, ‘DRMA Orders Revoked; New Limited Measures Under Public Health Enforcement Order’ (30 March 2022).

146  Office of the Prime Minister Communications, ‘Jamaica Declared a Disaster Area as COVID-19 Cases Increase and Two Communities Quarantined’ (14 March 2020).

153  See eg, Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 2) Order, 2020 (24 March 2020), s 7(1); Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 3) Order, 2021 (1 March 2021), s 11(3); A Morris, ‘Stay-At-Home Order Remains in Effect for Persons 60 and Over’, Jamaica Information Service (22 March 2021).

158  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Jamaica Issues Ban on China-related Travel’ (31 January 2020); Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Coronavirus Update’ (1 February 2020).

159  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Expanded Travel Restrictions’ (27 February 2020); Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘United Kingdom Added to Countries with Travel Restrictions’ (14 March 2020).

160  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Jamaica Issues Ban on China-related Travel’ (31 January 2020); Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Coronavirus Update’ (1 February 2020).

161  Quarantine Act 1951, ss 7–9.

163  Public Health Act 1985, s 16.

164  Coronavirus: Gov't imposes UK to Jamaica travel restrictions’ Loop News Jamaica (Online, 14 March 2020).

166  Aliens Act 1946, s 5.

167  K Francis, ‘PM: We acted appropriately in cruise ship crew matter’ The Jamaica Observer (Online, 15 April 2020).

169  Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 4) Order, 2020 (21 April 2020), s 3(2); see also T Mundle, ‘New Protocols For Controlled Re-Entry of Jamaicans’, Jamaica Information Service (28 April 2020).

178  See eg Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 8) Order, 2020 (15 June 2020), ss 18(1), 20.

183  Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 7) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (1 June 2020), s 11; see further Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, ‘Education in Emergencies: A Manual for the Reopening of Educational Institutions’ (26 May 2020).

190  Ministry of Health Press Release, ‘Travellers from countries with COVID-19 must self-quarantine’ (15 March 2020).

194  Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 3) (Amendment) (No.2) Order, 2020 (14 April 2020), s 2 (see inserted provision 13C).

198  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Health & Wellness Ministry Expanding the Island’s Quarantine Capacity’ (10 February 2020).

204  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Healthcare Workers, JDF, JCF main focus for the First Weeks of Vaccination Programme’ (12 March 2021).

210  DRMA, s 2.

211  DRMA, s 27.

212  DRMA, ss 2, 52(b).

213  Sitting of the House of Representatives’ Public Broadcasting Corporation Jamaica (YouTube, 21 April 2020).

215  C Gilchrist, ‘Cops Hold St Ann Pastor for COVID Church Breaches’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 3 March 2021).

217  C Patterson, ‘Gov’t to Lift Seven and Eight Miles Quarantine Saturday’, Jamaica Information Service (26 March 2020).

219  K Williams, ‘Motorcade Prohibition, Physical Distancing Non-existent: In JLP Drive-through’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 24 August 2020); B Henry, ‘700 Entertainment Breaches; Minister Summons Stakeholder’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 5 August 2020); C Patterson, ‘Compliance with COVID-19 Protocols Essential – Dr. Tufton’, Jamaica Information Service (25 February 2021); Minister Urges Compliance With COVID-19 Measures in Negril’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 12 January 2021).

220  See eg, K Perry, ‘“Trevor” Charged for Badness’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 24 March 2020; C Gilchrist, ‘Cops Hold St Ann Pastor for COVID Church Breaches’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 3 March 2021); A Hall, ‘Curfew Warning’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 10 April 2020); 21 Arrested in Clarendon for Failing to Wear Masks’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 11 September 2020); T Mundle, ‘American Charged for Curfew Breach in Defence of Brother’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 26 February 2021).

221  See eg Jamaicans Urge to Report Returnees Who Breach Quarantine Orders’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 3 July 2020).

223  M Lavigne et al, ‘Social Protection Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean: Jamaica’ UN ECLAC (2013), 10.

224  Planning Institute of Jamaica, ‘National Policy on Poverty and National Poverty Reduction Programme’ (September 2017), 1; for the estimate for 2012, see Planning Institute of Jamaica, ‘Mapping Poverty Indicators: Consumption Based Poverty in Jamaica’ (PIOJ and STATIN 2019), 5.

225  Planning Institute of Jamaica and Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC), Executive Summary’ (2018), xv.

226  Planning Institute of Jamaica and Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC), Executive Summary’ (2019), x.

227  Planning Institute of Jamaica and Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC) 2017, Executive Summary’ (2017); M Cucagna and S Johnson, ‘Return to Paradise: A Poverty Perspective on Jamaica’s COVID-19 Recovery Response’, World Bank Blogs (17 November 2020).

228  See Planning Institute of Jamaica, ‘National Policy on Poverty and National Poverty Reduction Programme’ (September 2017), 1.

229  International Monetary Fund, ‘IMF Country Report No. 22/43’ (15 February 2022), 8.

230  Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Labour Force Statistics’ (July 2019–October 2020).

231  Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Labour Force Statistics’ (April 2022).

232  Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘2015 Informal Sector Survey Report’ (2020), 11.

237  Protect the Vulnerable from Covid-19 Economic Fallout – Golding’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 31 March 2020)

238  B Henry, ‘Timid Budget’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 17 March 2021).

239  Covid-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, ‘Rebuild Jamaica’ (16 July 2020).

241  See however Parkins v Cari-Med Group Ltd [2021] JMSC Civ 183 (Supreme Court of Jamaica) in which litigants challenged the constitutionality of the vaccine mandate instituted by their employer, a private entity; see also, T Robinson, G Elliott-Williams, and A Bulkan, ‘Public Law in Private Employment: Vaccination Policies Reach the Courts of Jamaica’, Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 (25 February 2022).

242  D Levy et al, ‘Evaluation of Jamaica's PATH Conditional Cash Transfer Programme’ (2010) 2 Journal of Development Effectiveness 421.

243  Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), ‘Come Mek Wi Hol’ Yuh Han’: The Components of an Effective Social Safety Net for Jamaica’ (2021), 44.

244  Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, ‘CARE Brochure’ (2020), 16.

246  Planning Institute of Jamaica, ‘National Policy on Poverty and National Poverty Reduction Programme’ (September 2017), 85.

247  E Virtue, ‘MPs Want Increase in Benefits for Poor Constituents’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online,7 June 2017).

248  Minister of Labour and Social Security, ‘Creating a Sustainable Path for a Better and Stronger Jamaica: Sectoral Debate 2021’ (27 April 2021), 30.

249  Minister of Labour and Social Security, ‘Creating a Sustainable Path for a Better and Stronger Jamaica: Sectoral Debate 2021’ (27 April 2021), 3.

250  10,000 Families to Benefit from US$1 Million World Food Programme Grant’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 17 November 2021).

251  Government Allocates new Spending Package for Struggling Jamaicans’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 12 July 2022).

252  Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, ‘CARE Brochure’ (2020), 8.

253  L Linton, ‘Gov’t Extends SET and BEST Cash Grants’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 8 July 2020); D McIntosh, ‘Outstanding CARE Programme Payments To Be Made December’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 11 December 2020).

254  New Applications for COVID Grants to Close on June 13’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 9 June 2021).

255  J Murphy, ‘Billions More in CARE Payouts’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 14 October 2021).

256  Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, ‘CARE Brochure’ (2020), 12.

257  Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, ‘CARE Brochure’ (2020), 14.

258  L Linton, ‘More Than 500,000 applications for COVID CARE Programme’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 13 May 2020).

260  Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), ‘Come Mek Wi Hol’ Yuh Han’: The Components of an Effective Social Safety Net for Jamaica’ (2021), 1.

261  Ministry of Labour and Social Security, ‘Ministry Paper No 27/2021: Social Pension Programme’ (7 April 2021), 2.

262  Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry Paper No 27/2021: Social Pension Programme (7 April 2021), 2.

263  Gov’t Establishes New Social Pension Programme, Increases Monthly Payout’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 3 February 2021); Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry Paper No 27/2021: Social Pension Programme (7 April 2021), 2.

264  Social Pension Programme to Benefit Senior Citizens’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 2 August 2021).

265  Labour Ministry Urges Greater take up of Social Pension Programme’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 23 December 2021); R Williams, ‘More Elderly To Be Added To Social Pension Programme’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 27 April 2022).

266  MPs Slammed for Subpar Take-up of Elderly Welfare’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 27 April 2022).

268  G Angus, ‘Tablets in Schools Programme Empowering Students’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 12 November 2020).

269  Education Ministry Rolls Out ‘Own Your Own Device’ Next Week’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 3 March 2021).

271  Gov’t to Spend $1.7 Billion to Purchase Tablets, Laptops For Students’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 24 September 2020).

273  L Linton, ‘New Applications for SET Cash and BEST Cash Close June 13’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 9 June 2021).

277  R Brooks, ‘Coronavirus: Growing Calls for Gov’t to Amend Sick Leave Laws and Regulations’ Nationwide News (Online, 8 March 2021).

278  National Insurance Act 1966, ss 3, 4.

279  Planning Institute of Jamaica and Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC) 2017, Executive Summary’ (2019), xii.

280  Planning Institute of Jamaica and Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC) 2017, Executive Summary’ (2019), xii.

281  Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), ‘Come Mek Wi Hol’ Yuh Han’: The Components of an Effective Social Safety Net for Jamaica’ (2021), 43.

282  Planning Institute of Jamaica and Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC) 2017, Executive Summary’ (2019), xii.

283  Pensions Act 1947; Pension (Superannuation Funds and Retirement Schemes) Act 2003; Pensions (Public Service) Act 2017; Jamaica is undergoing reform in the public sector pension system, see D McIntosh, ‘Government to Embark on Another Phase of Pension Reform’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 14 January 2022).

284  D Palmer, ‘Revisiting the Pension Acts in Times of Financial Hardship’ (2020) 32 JAMBAR Journal 78.

286  S Chao, ‘Jamaica’s Effort in Improving Universal Access within Fiscal Constraints’ UNICO Studies Series 6, World Bank (January 2013).

287  L Linton, ‘Dr Tufton Tables National Health Insurance Plan Green Paper’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 9 May 2019).

288  General Consumption Tax (Amendment of Rate) Order 2020; L Linton, ‘Gov’t Announces $18 Billion in Tax Cuts’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 1 March 2020).

289  A Smith, ‘Senate Passes Bill to Facilitate $375,000 Income Tax Credit for MSMEs’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 20 December 2020).

290  Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, ‘Export Fees are Down 50%, Says State Minister Green’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 14 April 2020).

294  Agriculture’s Place in the New Economy’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 12 January 2021).

295  Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, ‘CARE Brochure’ (2020), 10.

296  L Linton, ‘Gov’t Extends SET and BEST Cash Grants’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 8 July 2020); D McIntosh, ‘Outstanding CARE Programme Payments To Be Made December’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 11 December 2020).

297  New Applications for COVID Grants to Close on June 13’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 9 June 2021).

298  Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, ‘CARE Brochure’ (2020), 20.

299  Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, ‘CARE Brochure’ (2020), 19.

300  O Henry, ‘Buy-Back Programme Safeguarding Farmers’ Wellbeing During COVID-19’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 12 February 2021).

301  Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, ‘Policy Directive’ (7 September 2018); $1b available for agriculture programme to assist small farmers’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 15 May 2020); L Linton ‘$120 Million in Production Incentives for Fishers’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 4 November 2020).

303  Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Act, s 5A; see G Goffe, ‘120 days later: The layoff dilemma’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 15 July 2020).

304  Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Act, s 5A; see G Goffe, ‘120 days later: The layoff dilemma’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 15 July 2020).

305  G Goffe, ‘120 days later: The layoff dilemma’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 15 July 2020).

308  Occupational Safety and Health Bill 2017; see M Royal, ‘Coronavirus Protection in the Workplace: Why we need the Occupational Safety and Health Act’, Myers, Fletcher and Gordon (15 April 2020); see also S Palmer, ‘OSH Act to Protect Employees from Unsafe Work Environments’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 20 February 2015); Employers Could Face Sanctions for Breaching Workplace-Safety Law’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 28 October 2019).

309  Industrial Relations and Industrial Disputes Act 1975; A Cotterell, ‘Do you Really Have a Right to Strike?’, Myers, Fletcher and Gordon (1 February 2017).

310  See eg R Miller ‘Occupational Safety Law Long Overdue’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 23 February 2018); PSOJ Welcomes Occupational Health, Safety Bill … Calls for Labour Market Reform Report’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 27 February 2018); Occupational Health and Safety Bill Wait is Embarrassing, says Trade Unionist’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 18 November 2015); Do More to Facilitate the Disabled – Morris’ Nationwide Radio Jamaica (Online, 15 April 2019).

311  Parliament to Receive Occupational Safety & Health Bill this Legislative Year - Samuda’ Radio Jamaica News (Online, 26 April 2022).

312  New Workplace Health, Safety Law this Year - Labour Minister’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 5 January 2014).

313  Constitution of Jamaica, ss 13(3)(e), 13(3)(f).

314  See eg, K Francis, ‘PM: We Acted Appropriately in Cruise Ship Crew Matter’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 15 April 2020).

315  Jamaica Trying to Get Home Citizens Stranded in US’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 18 April 2020).

316  D Mitchell, ‘“I’m Starving!” Food Options Dwindling as Ship Workers Ponder Legal Action’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 27 April 2020).

318  See eg, Jamaica Constabulary Force, ‘Pastor Arrested for Breaching the Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No 2) Order 2020’ (accessed 4 October 2021); C Gilchrist, ‘Cops Hold St Ann Pastor for Covid Church Breaches’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 3 March 2021).

319  R Turner, ‘Tufton Steps up Covid-19 Sensitization Campaign’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 22 November 2020).

320  T Bailey, ‘Seaga’s Sister Presses Vaccine Import Impetus’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 31 March 2021).

321  G Davis, ‘Vendors Protest Closure of Musgrave Market in Portland’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 25 December 2020); H Bucknor, ‘Mayor Defies Grand Market Protesters’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 8 December 2020).

322  Constitution of Jamaica, s 13(3)(j).

325  Data Protection Act 2020; A Morris, ‘Justice Minister Says Data Protection Act Should Come into Effect Before NIDS’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 4 February 2021).

327  Regulations for Data Protection law to be Completed by September, Vaz Says’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 10 May 2022).

328  Z Whittaker, ‘Jamaica’s JamCOVID Pulled Offline After Third Security Lapse Exposed Travellers’ Data’ Tech Crunch (Online, 26 February 2021); Z Whittaker, ‘Jamaica’s Immigration Website Exposed Thousands of Travellers’ Data’ Tech Crunch (Online, 17 February 2021); J Johnson, ‘Amber Group Breaks Silence on Personal Data Exposure’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 21 February 2021).

332  Z Whittaker, ‘How Jamaica Failed to Handle its JamCOVID Scandal’ Tech Crunch (Online, 3 April 2021).

335  Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaican Labour Market: Impact of Covid-19’ (July 2020), 12.

336  Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaican Labour Market: Impact of Covid-19’ (July 2020), 7.

337  See Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Press Brief: Labour Force Survey October 2019’ (January 2020); and Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Press Brief: Labour Force Survey October 2021’ (January 2021).

338  See Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaican Labour Market: Impact of Covid-19’ (July 2020), 7; see also S Seguino, ‘Why are Women in the Caribbean So Much More Likely than Men to Be Unemployed?’ MPRA Paper No. 6507 (December 2003).

339  Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Labour Force Statistics Press Releases’ (Demographic and Social data) (April 2022).

340  MA Garavito, ‘COVID-19: The Caribbean Crisis’ IDB (2020), 12; J Murphy, ‘Poor Women Most Disadvantaged by Unpaid Care Work’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 4 February 2021); Statistical Institute of Jamaica, ‘Jamaican Labour Market: Impact of Covid-19’ (July 2020), 21.

342  C Watson Williams, ‘Women’s Health Survey 2016 Jamaica’ (Statistical Institute of Jamaica, Inter-American Development Bank and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women 2018), 23; see also S Serbanescu et al, ‘Reproductive Health Survey Jamaica, 2008: Final Report’ (National Familiy Planning Board, June 2010), ch 15.

343  A Dunkley-Willis, ‘We Got the Calls From Desperate Women’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 16 July 2020).

344  C Patterson, ‘First Shelter for Abused Women Now Operational’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 26 November 2020).

345  Grange Opens Second Government-run Shelter for Women’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 15 December 2021).

346  Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, ‘Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Jamaica’ (10 August 2012), [221].

347  N Wilson-Harris, ‘Woman, Man Turned Away From Police Station During Curfew Hours’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 9 November 2020).

348  N Wilson-Harris, ‘INDECOM, JCF Probe Reports of Cops Turning Persons Away After Curfew’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 14 November 2020).

349  Women’s Media Watch Jamaica, ‘Justice Delayed, Denied For Domestic Violence Victims’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 3 December 2020).

350  K Chappell, ‘'Work to do' as coronavirus hits LGBT+ Jamaicans hard’ Reuters (Online, 30 June 2020); UNAIDS, ‘Feature Story: How the Jamaica transgender community is surviving COVID-19’ (24 September 2020).

352  Henry and Edwards v Jamaica IACHR Report No 400/20 Case 13.637 (31 December 2020) (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights).

356  R Williams, ‘Disabilities Act to Come into Effect In 2020/21’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 12 February 2020); Disabilities Act’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 24 March 2022).

357  J Murphy, ‘1,000 J’cans Added to Disabilities Register since COVID – Schooling Still a Challenge for PWDs, Says Hendricks’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 5 January 2021); K Oliver et al, ‘Disabled Flock Lobby as COVID-19 Stings’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 26 May 2020).

358  See also J Hunter, ‘Persons With Disabilities 18 to 65 Years to Get Grant Through CARE Programme’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 29 June 2020); J Hunter, ‘CARE Grant Applications Reopen for Persons With Disabilities’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 2 October 2020).

359  M Thomas, ‘Help!: Disabled Advocacy Group Says Aid Not Reaching the Needy’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 1 May 2020).

363  Law Needed to Protect Seniors, Says Attorney’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 18 June 2021).

364  Seniors Could Get $10,000 for Taking COVID Vaccine’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 10 March 2021).

365  Constitution of Jamaica, s 13(3)(k).

366  Constitution of Jamaica, s 13(3)(k).

367  Transparency in Protocols for Classroom Teaching’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 28 October 2020); C Serju, ‘Generation of Students Could Lose Year of Education: Robinson’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 7 October 2020).

372  C Patterson, ‘238 Schools in Remote Areas to Be Provided with Internet Access’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 5 May 2020).

373  A Smith, ‘Government Procuring Laptops and Tablets for PATH Students’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 31 July 2020).

376  Child Sexual Abuse Cases Increase by 70% Since COVID-19’ Radio Jamaica News (Online, 28 May 2020).

378  Child Sexual Abuse Cases Increase by 70% Since COVID-19’ Radio Jamaica News (Online, 28 May 2020).

379  A Hall, ‘Female Prisoner Dies from COVID-19’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 25 February 2021); St Catherine Prison Inmate Dies From COVID-19’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 18 March 2021); DCS Confirms 21 Cases of COVID-19 at Tower Street Facility’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 25 January 2021); A Hall, ‘Juvenile Correctional Facility Shut Down After COVID-19 Outbreak’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 16 March 2021); C Robinson, ‘“We Are Living Like Dogs”: Inmates Enraged as Female Prison Leads COVID-19 Caseload; Government Says No Need For Alarm’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 28 February 2021).

380  Stand Up For Jamaica Donates 17,000 Masks, 9 Thermal Scanners to DCS’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 17 October 2020); Samuda Again Defends Management of COVID-19 in Prisons’ Radio Jamaica News (Online, 2 April 2021).

381  Department of Correctional Services, ‘COVID-19 Cases Increase in St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre’ (23 October 2021).

382  Prisoners to be Forced into Rehab Programmes’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 13 March 2022).

383  Department of Correctional Services, ‘COVID-19 Cases Increase in St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre’ (23 October 2021).

386  A Hall, ‘COVID Concern in Prisons’ Jamaica Observer (Online, 17 February 2021).

387  Corrections Department Resumes Visits at Adult Prisons’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 24 March 2022).

388  World Prison Brief, ‘Jamaica’ (accessed 5 September 2021).

389  Constitution of Jamaica s14(4); Everton Douglas and ors v Attorney General and ors [2020] JMSC Civ 267 (Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica), [53].

391  T Wheelan, ‘Bail Hearings Being Done in Some Parishes Through Videoconferencing’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 3 April 2020); J Cross, ‘COVID Forces Faster Tech Transition for Courts’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 14 September 2020).

392  But see T Wheelan, ‘Reporting Conditions For Persons On Bail Suspended’ Jamaica Information Service (Online, 17 April 2020); St Thomas Parish Court to Remain Closed Due to COVID’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 22 March 2021).

393  P Allen, ‘Throne Speech: Building Forward…Stronger Together’ Office of the Prime Minister (2021).