BILL WATCH 70/2020 - Public Health Lock-down Order - Further Amendments

BILL WATCH 70/2020

[19th October 2020]

Public Health Lock-down Order : Further Amendments

Last Wednesday, the 14th October, the Minister of Health and Child Care [or, more accurately, the Vice-President to whom functions relating to health and child care have been assigned [see Bill Watch 53 of 2020 [link]] published SI 239A of 2020.  The SI amends the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (No. 2) Order, 2020, which we analysed in our Bill Watches 57 of 2020 [link], 61 of 2020 [link] and 65 of 2020 [link].

The latest amendments are not extensive and can be described very briefly:

Passengers boarding aircraft

Previously section 7(2) of the Lock-down Order stated that everyone boarding an aircraft for a domestic or international flight had to have a Covid-19-free certificate issued no more than 72 hours, i.e. three days, before they boarded.  The new amendments state that the certificate must be issued no later than 48 hours, two days, before boarding.  The amendments go on to say that passengers who display Covid-19 symptoms, despite having the certificate:

  • will be charged a “processing fee” of US $60
  • will have to submit to being screened and tested for Covid-19 at a holding facility [the term is not defined] and
  • if they test negative, will be discharged for self-quarantine [the period is unstated].  If on the other hand they test positive they will be detained in a place of isolation for 14 days.

In either event, they will not be allowed to board their aeroplane.

Taxi-cabs and driving schools

The amendments to section 16 of the Lock-down Order are very carelessly drafted, but they seem to mean that two types of business are now classified as “businesses in the formal commercial and industrial sector”.  These businesses are:

  • metered taxicab operators, i.e. businesses that are licensed [the amendment erroneously says “registered”] under the Road Motor Transportation Act to operate taxis, and
  • operators of driving schools, defined as operators licensed to run driving schools under the Road Traffic Act [actually, driving schools are registered under the Traffic Safety Council Act].

The effect of this classification is that licensed taxicab operators and registered driving schools can open for business between 6:30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. every day [taxicab operators and their customers may find these hours restrictive].  They will also have to have their employees tested for Covid-19 within 14 days after opening for business.

Note that the amendments do not apply to “pirate taxis” or to unregistered driving schools, both of which are and remain illegal.


Still on the issue of illegality, it is regrettable that the opportunity was not taken to repeal the unconstitutional suspension of by-elections which was effected by SI 225A of 2020.

Consolidated Lock-down Order

A consolidated version of the Lock-down Order, incorporating all amendments made to it, can be accessed on the Veritas website [link].


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