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Curfew breakers will face fixed penalties, not criminal charges

Curfew-breakers will not face criminal charges under planned changes to the law, the Premier has revealed.

But the amendment will not be retroactive – meaning that those already arrested for the breach could still find themselves in court.

The curfew was lifted yesterday, after 15 people were arrested last weekend for breaking it.

David Burt spoke out after a senior police officer warned that breaching the curfew was a criminal offence and could result in offenders being placed on the US stop list.

Earlier this week Martin Weekes, Assistant Commissioner of Police, said that breaches of Covid-19 regulations “constitute a criminal offence and will appear on your record”.

The Assistant Commissioner said: “While we would much prefer compliance as opposed to prosecution, the Bermuda Police Service has a duty to uphold the law and will continue to prepare files on individuals arrested for breach of curfew, to be assessed by the Department of Public Prosecutions, which will determine what, if any, charges are to be brought.

“It cannot be stressed strongly enough that overseas authorities may take note of these offences should you be convicted in court, and question travellers on their reasons for having committed offences against the Covid regulations when seeking entry into their country.”

Mr Burt described the remarks as “unfortunate” but “factually correct”.

“We do not like the imposition of the stop list but what he is saying is actually factually correct,” the Premier said.

“It is factually correct that a violation of public health emergency orders is a criminal offence and criminal convictions – if found convicted – could lead to impositions from other jurisdictions.

“One of the things we are doing however is that the minister will shortly be bringing a paper to amend the Public Health Emergency Act and the Quarantine Act to put in place fixed penalties, which I think will remove it from being a criminal offence to being a fixed penalty offence.”

Last night, a Ministry of Health spokeswoman confirmed the move.

“The Government is working on legislation to enable fixed penalties. It will not be retroactive,” the spokeswoman said.

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Published February 19, 2021 at 8:41 am (Updated February 19, 2021 at 8:41 am)

Curfew breakers will face fixed penalties, not criminal charges

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