THE COVID-19 Oversight Committee has finalized a new 2020 COVID-19 Regulation 2 to replace the existing one.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said that the new regulation was developed following a review on the implementation of the old regulation which was gazette by the Governor-General Sir David Vunagi over the last few months.
Sogavare said upon the review, a number of issues were identified and in order to address them, the committee recommended for a new and improved regulation,” he said.
“A draft regulation was subsequently produced and it was recommended by the committee for cabinet’s endorsement,” he said.
He said when Cabinet met on 29th April 2020; it gave its final blessing for the 2020 COVID-19 Regulation 2 to be effected.
“The new Regulation has been published in the Gazette on Friday last week and now takes legal effect,” he said.
Sogavare said the new regulation seeks to improve on the existing powers contain in the old regulations by providing more clarity to existing provisions and enhancing a number of existing powers and also including new ones.
“With regards to the inclusion of new powers, the new regulations now contain amongst others the following;
– A power to close a business if a business falls or fails to comply with orders.
He said under this new order, the Prime Minister may by order cancel the registration, license, permits or any other authorizations that a person who owns or operates a business is required under a law.
Sogavare said a person who conducted his/her business in the Solomon Islands during the emergency period may subject to breach the law if the person;
(a) contravenes an order made under the price control act (chapter 64)
(b) Conducts business in a public place that is temporarily closed by order
(c) The business is conducted in a manner that otherwise contravenes the regulation or order of any other law.
“Offence of deception for committing fraud is also incorporated under this regulation and a person may commit an offence if, during the emergency period, the person deceives another person with the intent to obtain money, property or benefits from another person by giving that other person the impression that he or she would be giving them money, property or benefit for a public safety measure,” he said.
Sogavare said as a result of the recent foreign vessel clearance issue, the Oversight Committee has also incorporated sea vessel clearance into the new regulation.
“Recently, a number of issues have arisen in particular to the clearance of foreign vessels to the Solomon Islands and in light of this, the oversight committee has recommended that the Prime Minister be given powers with regards to vessel clearance procedures including measures for exempting a vessel or aircraft or its crew from compliance with a restriction imposed on its movements,” he said.
He added that the final power under the new regulation is the destruction of illegal property (ies).
Sogavare said on that order, the Prime Minister will have powers to destroy or remove any property illegally erected or placed in a closed area.
“This will include illegal betel nut stalls erected at the public places.
“Further, the new regulation will also include new authorized officers such as National Disaster Council officers, health inspectors, nurses, and also provide more clarity on powers of the authorized officers,” he added.
He said the clarification of powers of the authorized officers is necessary to enable our authorized officers to carry out their duties more effectively.
Sogavare added that he will be issuing more orders in the coming days.
By IAN M.KAUKUI