The global spread of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has prompted governments to impose strict restrictions on their citizens. In Guyana, the government has resurrected the Public Health Ordinance of British Guiana as a legal means to combat the threat of COVID-19.
The Ordinance which dates back to 1934, and colonial times, was removed from the country’s legal system in 1972, but continues to be effective by way of certain provisions of the Law Revision Act, which allows for omitted laws to be valid, despite its omission.
Government has already warned that persons who fail to comply with the COVID-19 precautionary measures, commit an offence under Section 152 of the Public Health Ordinance and are liable on summary conviction to the penalty provided under the aforesaid section.
A perusal of that Section revealed that persons caught breaking these rules are liable to a fine of $50. Failure to pay the fine will see them liable to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding two months.
Section 152(1) states — Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Ordinance, or fails, neglects or refuses to execute any work or to do anything which he is required to do by virtue of any of the provisions of this Ordinance, or of any order or notice served upon him by any officer of the Board or the legal sanitary authority by virtue of this Ordinance, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, unless some other penalty is provided thereof, be liable to a penalty not exceeding fifty dollars [$50], or in default of payment thereof, to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two months.
Section 152 (2) outlines that where the offence is a continuing one, unless some other penalty is provided thereof, the offender shall be liable to a further penalty not exceeding ten dollars [$10] for everyday for which the offence continues, and in default of payment, to imprisonment for any period not exceeding three months.