ATTORNEY Avory Sinanan, SC, has said a limited state of emergency (SoE) is advisable to pre-empt constitutional challenges arising from covid19 restrictions.
In a legal notice on Sunday new regulations under the Public Health Ordinance to control and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus were put in place.
Running a bar, club, theatre or gaming house, having a religious service with more than ten people, or letting people sit and eat in a restaurant are now offences and subject to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months. The regulation came into force Sunday and expires on April 30.
Sinanan told Newsday that for all the restrictions, including the closure of bars, Government should declare a SoE.
"The Government's response is fantastic.
"But we have some hard-headed Trinidadians who still want to go by Caura and the beach and have limes. I am certain we will have 'corona parties' soon
"A limited SoE ought to be declared and all restrictions put in place, and then the noises you are hearing about constitutional rights would be abated."
He pointed out the restrictions infringe fundamental rights such as freedom of association and freedom of movement.
"It's a sacrifice.
"I understand what Government is trying to do. This is for the greater good. Because one person could spread this thing exponentially."
Sinanan said he strongly advised an SoE to "constitutionalise" the regulations and restrictions being put in place.
"You will have somebody just now filing an action saying their constitutional rights infringed. We don't want that. We have to move as a nation."
He said the pandemic is really an opportunity for the nation to come together and purge all the animosity that has been generating over the last couple of years.
"Recognise we are all Trinidadians and in the same boat. It is a wonderful opportunity for healing."
But, asked about possibly implementing a limited SoE, National Security Minister Stuart Young said: "The typical lawyer’s cry for law and legislation is not appreciated by the sensible people in the population right now.
"We all have to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper right now and act responsibly and listen to what the medical professionals and experts have asked us to do.
"Lawyers and politicians who are talking about the constitutionality of measures that call for individuals to be socially responsible are not understanding the covid19 virus and its effects.”
He added that he is pleased that the sensible population of TT has by and large heeded the Government’s call for personal responsibility.
"The only way a country can keep the curve down and slow the spread of the covid19 virus is for its population to engage in self-discipline and exercise social distancing and proper hygiene. The few who refuse to heed the Government’s call put not only themselves at risk but also those that they come into contact with."
Opposition Senator Wade Mark, speaking during Friday’s extraordinary sitting of the Senate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)) Bill, said the Government’s closure of bars during the covid19 pandemic could amount to a breach of the owners’ constitutional rights to enjoyment of their private property.