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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, 2022. All Rights Reserved.date: 23 January 2022

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


© 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

Except where the text indicates the contrary, the law is as it stood on: 30 March 2021

The two month period between 31 August to 31 October 2020 saw an increase of 6672 cases and 90 deaths.1 Jamaica experienced a major spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the first quarter of 2021 with cases increasing by 23,765 between 31 January and 31 March 2021 and deaths increasing by 247.2 As at 31 March 2021, Jamaica had 39,543 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 599 deaths directly attributable to it.3 In the four months that followed, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 55,790 and the number of deaths directly attributable to Covid-19 has almost doubled, rising to 1254.4 The June to August 2021 period saw another significant spike. At the beginning of June 2021, the number of cases stood at 48,639 with 951 deaths.5 Jamaica has imposed significant restrictions on movement in response to these spikes. During the spikes, hospitalizations in a number of facilities exceeded isolation capacity,6 necessitating the creation of additional isolation spaces and the setting up of field hospitals.7 The State began vaccination in March 2021.8 Over the course of the next four months, 9 per cent of the population received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine and 4 per cent was fully vaccinated (119,012).9 Though vaccine scepticism and hesitancy has adversely impacted uptake, the State is in the process of inoculating the population as limited vaccine supplies become available.10

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.11

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.12 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.13 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.14

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).15

II.  Applicable Legal Framework

A.  Constitutional and international law

The Constitution16 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.17 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.18 Following the proclamation, a state of public emergency can remain in effect for up to 14 days.19 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.20 Bipartisan support for extensions of these emergencies has not always been forthcoming,21 and some detainees have succeeded in challenging their indefinite detentions under one such emergency period.22

9.  During a state of emergency, the State can introduce measures pursuant to regulations made under the Emergency Powers Act 1938,23 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.24 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.25 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.26 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.27 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.28

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 lawmaking. 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. 29

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.30 Jamaica is also part of a treaty-established regional arrangement known as the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).31 The latter is the mechanism through which Caribbean states have accessed the COVAX Facility.32

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.33 In addition, courts routinely refer to international law as persuasive precedent when interpreting the Constitution.34

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.35

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.36 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.37 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.38

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.39 Those orders can direct the enforcement of measures to remove or guard against the disaster or its consequences, or to mitigate the disaster.40 The Prime Minister’s orders under the DRMA are effective if published in a daily newspaper circulating in Jamaica or other broadcast media.41 The orders remain in force until the time specified in the instrument.42

16.  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.

17.  The Quarantine Act,43 Public Health Act,44 and Emergency Powers Act45 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 Public Health Act provides for the relevant Minister to prohibit the assembly of persons and order closure of public spaces or schools. 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.46 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

18.  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 have lasted as little as one to two weeks.47 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 have been in force since 18 March 2020.48

19.  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.49 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.50

D.  Guidance

20.  The Ministry of Health and Wellness provides most Covid-19 guidelines and protocols.51 Some are incorporated by reference into orders and thus made enforceable under the DRMA.52 No significant divergence between official guidance and the law was identified.

III.  Institutions and Oversight

A.  The role of legislatures in supervising the executive

21.  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.53 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.54 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.55 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.

22.  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.56

23.  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.57 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.58 No such review has taken place to date.

24.  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 lawmaking powers of the Prime Minister to the creation of new offences, they do not introduce greater parliamentary oversight.59

25.  The only parliamentary oversight afforded in the DRMA orders so far has been voluntary. The Prime Minister has since April 2020 brought the new measures before Parliament and given 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.60

26.  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.61 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.62 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.63

27.  The Special Select Committee’s oversight work has 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. Up to the time of writing, the Committee has yet to publish any reports.

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

28.  Both Houses of Parliament have 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 have been no virtual nor any hybrid sittings of either of the two Houses at the time of writing. Sittings of each chamber as well as sittings of parliamentary committees have been broadcast live via YouTube, as is the usual practice.64

29.  Several oversight and select parliamentary committees, including the Special Select Committee on Covid-19, met virtually during the pandemic.65 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.66 The Senate Standing Orders Committee amended the Standing Orders to permit virtual meetings of its committees.67

30.  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.68 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.69

31.  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.70 Parliament was dissolved on 13 August 2020 and the general elections were held on 3 September 2020.71 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

32.  There was a brief closure of the courts in Jamaica between 13 and 16 March 2020.72 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.73 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.

33.  Most proceedings in the Court of Appeal have been conducted online since March 2020.74 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.

34.  Following the initial closure of the Supreme Court, provision was made for emergency civil and criminal matters to be dealt with in remote hearings.75 Emergency criminal matters included applications for bail or habeas corpus and where a child was charged with a criminal offence.76 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.77

35.  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.78 From September 2020, this limitation on the number of parties and attorneys involved in the dispute was removed.79 In civil cases where evidence is required to be given, provision is made for witnesses to do so remotely.80 Online proceedings are now required for the delivery of civil judgments in the Supreme Court, unless the judge decides otherwise.81 They are also used for interim proceedings in the revenue and commercial divisions and in all civil matters before a Master in chambers.82 Online proceedings can also be used for in-chamber hearings.83

36.  In-person, non-jury trials were permitted from June 2020 if no more than two defendants were involved.84 Remote hearings were permitted for handing down sentences and encouraged for non-jury trial of persons in custody.85 From September 2020, all judge-alone trials were permitted in person.86 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.87 Proceedings are done remotely where it involves case management, unless the judge orders otherwise, and attorneys are allowed to appear remotely for sentencing hearings.88

37.  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.89 Dates for the resumption of jury trials in different geographical locations around Jamaica were announced in January 2021.90 The commencement of these trials was suspended a few weeks later.91 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.92 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.93 The Chief Justice has encouraged the use of judge alone trials as a means of continuing cases while jury trials are suspended.94

38.  The suspension of jury trials raises questions about the constitutional right to due process, which includes a criminal trial within a reasonable time.95 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.96 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.

39.  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.97 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.’98

40.  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.99 The Constitution provides that all proceedings relating to the determination of a person’s civil rights and obligations must be held in public.100 However, courts can restrict public access to trials where they consider it ‘necessary or expedient’ or in the interests of ‘public safety’.101 More generally, guaranteed rights can be limited if it is ‘demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society’.102 Among other things, this demands proportionality between the sufficiently important objective to limit the right and the measures limiting the right.103 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.104

41.  The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jamaica’s apex court, has facilitated and encouraged hearings by video-link.105 The public can access the hearings through a livestream. Two appeals from Jamaica have been heard by the Privy Council remotely during the pandemic.106

42.  In the summary jurisdiction of the parish courts, in person proceedings were initially suspended until 20 April 2020.107 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.108 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.109 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.110 The Parish Courts are used mostly by persons in lower socio-economic groups,111 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.112

D.  Elections

43.  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.113 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.114 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.

44.  A DRMA order was issued to regulate the conduct of the election campaign and it limited public events to drive-through processions.115 Groups conducting walkabouts and door to door campaigning were limited to teams of no more than five persons.116 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.117 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.

45.  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.118 The Minister of Health and Wellness initially said Covid-19-positive persons would not be allowed to vote.119 There was significant public debate concerning whether Covid-19-positive persons could lawfully be denied the right to vote.120 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.121 These persons were required to wear, in addition, a protective mask, a face shield, and gloves.122

46.  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.123 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 2020.124 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.125 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.126

47.  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.127

E.  Scientific Advice

48.  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.128 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

49.  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.129 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.130

50.  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.

51.  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.131

G.  Ombuds and oversight bodies

52.  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.132 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.133

53.  The Political Ombudsman, which monitors the conduct of elections, encouraged greater enforcement by the police of Covid-19 guidelines during the campaign period.134 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.135

54.  The Government asked the Office of the Public Defender to review Covid-19 safety measures implemented at the prisons.136 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.137 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

55.  The public health measures adopted in response to the pandemic have been 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.

56.  The measures adopted were introduced in three key phases. The first commenced on 29 January 2020,138 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,139 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,140 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.’141

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

57.  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.142 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.

58.  Some form of national scale restriction on mobility has been sustained continuously by DRMA orders since 1 April 2020 through nightly curfews.143 At their most permissive, curfew hours ran from 11pm nightly until 5am the following morning.144 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.145 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.146

59.  Curfew orders have been subject to exceptions for persons employed in essential services, parliamentarians, the security forces, and members of the media, among others.147 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.148

60.  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.149

61.  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.150 The second more general work-from-home order introduced on 16 March 2020, which applied also to the private sector, was more ambiguous.151 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.’152 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.153

2.  Restrictions on international and internal travel

62.  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.154 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 2020.155 Non-citizens who had travelled to these countries were subject to immediate quarantine in a Government facility for a minimum of 14 days.156 Under the Quarantine Act and its regulations, cruise lines were denied landing where their arrival posed a public health risk.157

63.  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 Act158 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.159 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 1945.160 The latter statute applies only to Commonwealth citizens,161 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.162 Notably, the early restrictions also impacted Jamaicans. For instance, Jamaican cruise ship workers were not granted landing privileges when requested.163

64.  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.164 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.165 When the border reopened to non-nationals on 7 May 2020, they too were required to apply for travel authorisation.166

65.  By 5 August 2020, all returning residents were required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the level of risk.167 All persons required to quarantine were subject to monitoring via an electronic device.168 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.169 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.170

66.  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.171 On 23 December 2020, direct travel from the UK was prohibited.172

3.  Limitations on public and private gatherings and events

67.  Caps on the number of participants in public gatherings have been maintained through the pandemic, beginning with 20 persons on 18 March 2020.173 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.174 For a short period from 21 July to 27 August 2020, outdoor events were permitted with a maximum of 250 patrons.175 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),176 weddings were capped at 25 persons, and religious gatherings could not exceed 10 persons.177

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

68.  On 24 March 2020, educational institutions were ordered to close and most schools transitioned to online teaching.178 Secondary schools were reopened on 8 June 2020 to facilitate preparation for and taking of regional examinations.179 Some schools were reopened on a phased basis from 5 October 2020.180 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.181 This restriction was extended to all private and independent schools as of 4 March 2021, except for students with special educational needs.182

69.  All places of entertainment were ordered to close on 18 March 2020.183 The following month, on 22 April 2020, public beaches, water attractions, and other attractions were also closed.184 Between 19 May and 15 July 2020, there was a gradual reopening of some of these facilities.185

5.  Physical distancing

70.  Guidance on physical distancing was first provided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness on 15 March 2020.186 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.187 This requirement was increased to six feet on 22 April 2020 and remains in force at the time of writing.188

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

71.  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.189 This requirement was expanded to employees of food establishments on 21 April 2020.190 By 22 April 2020, everyone was required to wear a face mask in public spaces, including workplaces and public passenger vehicles.191

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

72.  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.192 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. 193

8.  Testing, treatment, and vaccination

73.  In the first phase, described in Part IV.A above, only symptomatic persons were tested.194 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-19.195 Persons critically ill with Covid-19 were treated in designated public hospitals.

74.  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.196 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.197 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.198

75.  Vaccination commenced on 10 March 2021, exactly one year after the first confirmed case in Jamaica.199 Frontline medical and health personnel as well as members of the security forces were the first priority groups for non-mandatory vaccination.200

9.  Contact tracing procedures

76.  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.201 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.

77.  Since 18 March 2020, hospitals and nursing homes were required to limit each patient to one visit per day.202 Visitors to infirmaries, which house many indigent older persons, have been prohibited since 25 March 2020.203 Additionally, since that date, no patient of an infirmary has been allowed to go outside the facility, and no new patients have been admitted.204 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.205

B.  Enforcement and compliance

1.  Enforcement

78.  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.206 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.207 Failure to comply with a direction given by an authorized officer, without a reasonable excuse, is an offence under the DRMA.208 Convictions for this offence attract a fine not exceeding $1 Million JMD (approximately $6800 USD) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.

79.  At least one member of the Parliamentary Opposition called for the DRMA to be amended to afford greater oversight.209 The DRMA was amended in 2021 to introduce an enforceable system of sanctions against persons who breach the public health measures.210 However, the amendment did not add parliamentary oversight of the Prime Minister’s legislative power.

80.  The JCF and public health officials worked in tandem to inspect premises and generally enforce public health measures.211 Under the DRMA orders, the JCF was also tasked with receiving electronic monitoring data for the purposes of enforcing quarantines.212 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.213 It also provided operational and logistics support for initiatives like the setting up of testing areas.214

2.  Compliance

81.  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.215 Individuals have been arrested and charged for breaching orders on gatherings, the wearing of masks, and curfews.216 Given difficulties with enforcement, personal responsibility has been emphasized and the public has been asked to help with identifying persons who violate orders.217

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

Tracy Robinson, The University of the West Indies, Mona

Kamille Adair Morgan

Jeffrey Foreman

Dionne Jackson-Miller

Tenesha Myrie

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 Monday, August 31, 2020’ (31 August 2020); Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Saturday, 31 October 2020’ (1 November 2021).

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

3  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Wednesday, March 31, 2021’ (1 April 2021).

4  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘Covid-19 Clinical Management Summary for Tuesday, August 10, 2021’ (11 August 2021).

5  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘COVID-19 Clinical Management Summary for Tuesday, June 1, 2021’ (2 June 2021).

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

7  “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).

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

9  Ministry of Health and Wellness, ‘COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker’ (accessed 19 August 2021).

10  J Daley, ‘Under 75’s Join Vaccination Blitz as 1,000 Get COVID Shots’ Jamaica Gleaner (Online, 5 April 2021).

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

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

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

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

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

28  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).

29  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).

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

32  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).

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

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

36  DRMA.

37  DRMA, s 26(1).

38  DRMA, s 26(2).

39  DRMA, s 26(8).

40  DRMA, s 26(2).

41  DRMA, s 26(2).

42  DRMA, s 26(3).

49  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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

57  DRMA, ss 54(2), 55.

58  DRMA, s 57.

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

60  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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

75  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].

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

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

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

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

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

104  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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

111  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.

112  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).

113  Constitution of Jamaica 1962, ss 64, 65.

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

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

119  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).

120  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).

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

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

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

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

127  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).

128  DRMA, s 8.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

149  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).

154  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).

155  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).

156  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).

157  Quarantine Act 1951, ss 7–9.

159  Public Health Act 1985, s 16.

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

162  Aliens Act 1946, s 5.

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

165  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).

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

179  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).

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

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

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

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

206  DRMA, s 2.

207  DRMA, s 27.

208  DRMA, ss 2, 52(b).

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

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

213  C Patterson, ‘Gov’t To Lift Seven And Eight Miles Quarantine Saturday’, Jamaica Information Service (26 March 2020).

215  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).

216  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).

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