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Tough regulations to prevent the spread of Covid 19

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka yesterday issued the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid 19) (Preventive Measures) Regulations gazette notification, 7 months after the virus entered the country in March.

Many of the health officials and opposition Members of Parliament were demanding that the government turn into law the guidelines given to the public to prevent the spread of the contagion.

There is even a Writ petition filed before the Court of Appeal to compel Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi to Gazette the guidelines as regulations.

The Minuwangoda cluster which emerged earlier this month after a 39-year-old woman working at a Brandix apparel factory in the town tested positive for COVID-19 two months after the Kandakadu cluster ended paved the way for the guidelines to be finally made into law.

The Minuwangoda cluster is the biggest cluster of all yielding 1,791 positive cases and forcing the testing of over 50,000 people for the virus.

It is also the cluster that has seen the widest spread of the disease with patients connected with the cluster popping up in many parts of the country from the South to the islands off the Jaffna Peninsula.

Accordingly, the gazette has defined the term “public place” as any place to which the public have access, whether as of right or otherwise, whether on payment or not, whether on invitation or not.

Following section 89 of the Ordinance, the new gazette has new regulations,

Section 90
Every person in a public place or every person in any other place where such person may come into close contact with another person, in any diseased locality in relation to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) shall –

(a) Wear a face mask at all times; and

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(b) Maintain social distancing of not less than one meter between two persons.

Section 91
It shall be lawful for the proper authority in any diseased locality in relation to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) to –

(a) Restrict the movement of persons;

(b) take or require any person to take a diseased person or a person suspected to be diseased to a hospital, place of observation or quarantine centre for treatment or quarantine purpose; or

(c) Direct any person suspected to be diseased to be self-quarantined in his house, premises or place of residence for a period not exceeding the incubation period as may be determined by the proper authority for the whole of Sri Lanka.

Section 92.
(1) Every person shall, upon the restriction of movement of persons under regulation 91, stay in his house, premises or place of residence for such period as may be determined by the proper authority, for preventing the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19).

(2) A person shall not, during the period determined under sub-regulation (1) –
(a) Enter or leave ;
(b) Travel, transport or enter any public place in; or
(c) Travel within the diseased locality in relation to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

(3) A person shall not open to the public any institution, place of business or any other similar premises in a diseased locality within the period determined under sub-regulation (1) unless being permitted by the proper authority.

Section 93
The proper authority may allow operating or functioning of any institution, workplace, supermarket, shop, sales outlet or any other place of business which provides essential services or any other service required for maintaining national security or public health in any diseased locality in relation to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19).

Section 94
The employer or person in charge of any institution or workplace which provides essential services or any other service which is required for maintaining national security, national economy, public health or preventing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) in any diseased locality in relation to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) shall in carrying out such services, –

(a) Not exceed the maximum number of employees and other persons permitted within the premises at a time stipulated by the proper authority;

(b) Ensure that every person who enters such institution or workplace wears a face mask at all times;

(c) Ensure social distancing not less than one metre between two persons;
(d) Ensure that the body temperature of every person is measured before entering the institution or the workplace;

(e) Provide adequate handwashing facility with soap or sanitizer for the persons entering the institution or the workplace and ensure that every person who enters such institution or workplace washes their hands before entering such institution or the workplace;

(f) Maintain a record of the name, identity card number and contact details of every person entering the institution or the workplace; and

(g) Comply with such other disease preventive measures as may be determined, from time to time, by the proper authority.

Section 95
A person who owns or in charge of a supermarket, shop, sales outlets or any other place of business which provide essential or any other service in any diseased locality in relation to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) shall –

(a) Not exceed the maximum number of persons permitted within the premises at a time stipulated by the proper authority;

(b) Ensure that every person who enters such premises wears a face mask at all times;

(c) Ensure social distancing of not less than one metre between two persons;

(d) Ensure that the body temperature of every person is measured before entering the premises;

(e) Provide adequate handwashing facility with soap or sanitizer for the persons entering the premises and ensure that every person who enters such premises washes their hands before entering the premises; and

(f) Comply with such other disease preventive measures as may be determined, from time to time, by the proper authority.

Section 96
Where the body temperature of any person is more than the body temperature as determined by the proper authority, such person shall not be allowed to enter such workplace or premises as specified in regulations 94 and 95.

Section 97.
The driver, conductor and the owner of a motor vehicle which is used for public transportation in any diseased locality in relation to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) shall ensure such social distancing between two passengers as determined by the proper authority and shall comply with such other disease preventive measures as may be determined, from time to time, by the proper authority.

Section 98
Where the restriction of movement is lifted by the proper authority in any diseased locality in relation to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19), every person who enters a public place or any other place where such person may come into close contact with another person or arranges or organizes a meeting, seminar or any other similar gathering or obtains all services including essential services, shall comply such other disease preventive measures as may be determined, from time to time, by the proper authority.

(Colombo/Oct16/2020)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe