Group hires Jamaican-born attorney to fight quarantine regulationsFriday, May 07, 2021
HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — A group of Bermuda residents has hired a Jamaican-born British barrister to challenge the government’s plans to introduce tough quarantine regulations next month.
The London-based Queen Counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, says public safety regulations imposed here to stem the coronavirus pandemic are “oppressive and trample on Bermudians’ constitutional rights”.
Griffiths, working in partnership with Bermudian attorney Charles Richardson, said he will file legal papers in Bermuda’s Supreme Court on Monday.
In a statement, Griffiths said that the measures needed to be held up to scrutiny.
“The attitude of those behind those decisions seems to be ’we know what’s best for you, so simply do as we say’.
“That is patently unacceptable. The Bermudian public are clearly not satisfied with what they perceive an overzealous overreach by the government which has resulted in a grossly unacceptable infringement of their constitutional rights,” Griffiths said, adding that a curfew “and other onerous restrictions” were impacting people’s livelihoods.
He said that the government needed to prove that the “gross infringements” were required.
“We remain doubtful that they will meet that threshold,” he added.
The protest group, which goes by the name Constitutional Freedom Bermuda, has launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the action.
From June 6, anyone who arrives in Bermuda who has not been vaccinated must quarantine at a government-approved facility at their own expense for 14 days even though residents, it is argued, could quarantine at home.
The group has also questioned curfew regulations, claiming they are unnecessary.
The move comes as Bermuda prepares to move into phase two on its road map to recovery on Sunday. Schools will reopen on Monday along with daycare centres and nurseries.
Gyms, hairdressers, barbers and churches will also reopen while restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining for customers. Retail businesses and grocery stores will be able to admit customers at 20 per cent capacity.
Thirty people have died from the virus among 2,432 cases. Only five new cases have been logged in the past two days. Blacks make up 90 per cent of the fatalities, Chief Medical Officer Dr Ayo Oyinloye disclosed on Thursday.
According to the 2016 census, of the island’s two main racial groups, blacks made up 52 per cent of the 64,000 population while whites accounted for 31 per cent.
A curfew will be eased from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am to 10:00 pm to 5:00 am (local time).
Thirty-nine per cent of the population have now been fully vaccinated, according to health officials.
Former attorney general, Mark Pettingill, said quarantine rules were “draconian” and that he had 15 clients who were prepared to file a constitutional challenge if the government pushed ahead.
But Premier David Burt gave a grim warning on Thursday night on the “very significant and detrimental consequences for the entire country” if travellers with the coronavirus were allowed to mix with the population.
Burt laid the blame for the latest outbreak of the coronavirus “with a high degree of certainty” on “a traveller who should have restricted their movements, but ignored that, went to a party, and later tested positive”.
Burt said the “single reckless act” had led to hospital cases, closed businesses and schools and “further wounded the economy that was already trying to recover from previous challenges”.
“I recognise people do not like what is necessary. But that is what you have in a once-in-a-century pandemic,” Burt said, adding the government did not take pleasure in the imposition of restrictions and quarantine requirements.
“I do not like this policy one bit. I did not enjoy having the state of emergency. I dislike telling people they cannot go to church or to school. But what I may like or what may be convenient to people must take a back seat to keeping Bermuda safe.
“Too many people have died as a result of this outbreak. Too many people have gone hungry as a result of this outbreak. There is a moral imperative to do what we must to keep that kind of pain and upset from continuing,” Burt added.
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