12 Jul 2021

Fiji Covid-19: On-the-spot fines come into effect

10:15 pm on 12 July 2021

From this week, there will be new penalties for breaching of Covid-19 protocols in Fiji.

Dr James Fong and PM Frank Bainimarama.

Dr James Fong and PM Frank Bainimarama. Photo: Fiji govt

The on-the-spot fines range from nearly $US10 (approx $NZ14) for individuals and up to $US2000 ($NZ2870) for companies depending on the severity of the offence.

They were announced late last week by the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

He said the fines were being introduced so the police cells did not get crowded with offenders.

The government did not want to lock people up and it did not want their money, it wanted people to follow the rules, Bainimarama said.

Fiji legal sector concern

Following the announcement, the Fiji Law Society voiced concern at the manner in which the government is enforcing directives on people to get vaccinated.

The Law Society president William Clarke is quoted by the Fiji Times saying the approach and legal implications of the new regulations were a concern.

He said the regulations effectively discriminated against employees on the basis of their personal circumstances or health status.

Clarke said the society supported the need to vaccinate the Fijian population and understood the government's concern for workplace safety, but there were better ways to achieve these aims, without infringing on people's legal rights.

Police step up to curb virus spread

Meanwhile, police said it had ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in holding cells and facilities despite the increase in arrests for health restriction breaches.

Spokesperson Wame Bautolu said the measures had been in place since last year.

"Temporary holding centres were set up apart from the station holding centres," he said. "These measures were in place to cater for the large number of arrests, particularly for those breaching health restrictions and curfew orders."

Bautolu said the measures were important now that anyone could be arrested for failing to wear a mask in a public place within containment and lockdown zones.

"This has been the case since last year to ensure compliance, so we are still able to follow the preventative health measures."

Rusiate Tudravu.

Rusiate Tudravu. Photo: Fiji Police Force

Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu said it was up to the public to report any breach of the law in their communities.

His comments came after 14 people were arrested for violating health and curfew restrictions.

Tudravu said that out of the 14 arrests, eight involved juveniles under the age of 18.

He said four of them were arrested along Nakasi Road in Nasinu, outside the capital Suva, for failing to wear a mask.

"Four juveniles aged 15 and 16 years were arrested for social gathering as they were found drinking alcohol at a school compound in Narere," Tudravu said.

"The Western and Eastern divisions recorded five cases each while the Southern Division recorded four cases.

"Five reports were for breach of curfew, four for social gathering breach, four for failure to wear a mask and one for breach of 50 percent PSV health ministry regulations," Tudravu said.

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