Lawyer: SoE is ‘right, proper and justified’

  • Constitutional order: John Rankin, the Governor, explains the state of emergency yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Constitutional order: John Rankin, the Governor, explains the state of emergency yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)


A veteran lawyer has backed the Covid-19 shelter-in-place order, which came into force this morning.

Mark Diel admitted yesterday that the measure was extreme, but said the gravity of the situation demanded it.

He added: “If we have an earthquake, if we have a major fire, if we have riots, there must be the ability to protect the public.

“Yes, this is extreme, but it makes perfect sense.”

Mr Diel explained that under a state of emergency, the Governor was given greater powers under the Constitution, as long as he was supported by Parliament.

He said: “A lot of our fundamental rights are enshrined in the Constitution.

“There are the ones that we often hear about, like freedom of expression but, in this case, the more relevant ones are the freedom of movement and the freedom of assembly and association.”

Mr Diel added: “Almost all of the rights enshrined in the Constitution are subject to exemptions, including public safety and public health.

“This is obviously relevant to the situation we are in.”

The shelter-in-place order means that people will have to stay at home around the clock, except for essential trips for things such as groceries and visits to hospital.

The order replaced the 8pm to 6am curfew period, which expired at 6am today.

Mr Diel said the Constitution allowed the Governor to declare a state of emergency which gave him the power to impose major restrictions on constitutional rights.

The Governor must also order meetings of the House of Assembly and the Senate inside five days so legislators can decide if they agreed with the decision.

Both Houses of Parliament are expected to convene on Monday.

Mr Diel said: “He has to do this with the backing of the legislature. In these circumstances, there can be no doubt that it will go through with broad support from both sides of the House and Senate.

“At the risk of stating it’s a rubber stamp, I cannot see how either the House or the Senate would take issue with what’s being done.”

Mr Diel added that the Governor and the Government had taken the right approach to tackle the pandemic.

He said: “I certainly think the Government has been doing a fantastic job getting ahead of this.

“Obviously, you can second guess everything, but when you consider what has been done in the US and the UK, Bermuda has done a stupendous job.

“This step is right, proper and justified.”

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Published Apr 4, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 4, 2020 at 6:36 am)

Lawyer: SoE is ‘right, proper and justified’

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