Right Steps & Poui Trees


Documents Regarding Covid-19 and Public Holiday Curfews: A Short Access to Information Story

On September 15, 2020, I sent the following Access to information request to both the Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) and the Office of the Cabinet (CO):

“I would like to make a request for the following information under the Access to Information Act:

1) Documents containing information regarding the use of curfews as a measure to reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission during Easter public holidays April 2020

2) Documents containing information regarding use of curfews as a measure to reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission during Labour Day public holidays May  2020

3) Documents containing information regarding use of curfews as a measure to reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission during Emancipation and Independence public holidays August 2020
These documents could be dated prior to or after the relevant public holidays.”

I received an acknowledgement from the MOHW on September 17, 2020…

“This acknowledges receipt of your Access to Information requesting documents as detailed in bullets 1-3 below.  

Please be advised that we have started the necessay research and will revert to you as soon as possible within the timelines of the Access to Information Act 2002.”  

…and a subsequent phone call to clarify the information that I was seeking.

On September 21, 2020, I received the following acknowledgement of my request from CO:

On October 7, 2020, I received this response from MOHW, indicating that no documents relevant to my request were found:

Today, October 9, 2020, I received this response from CO indicated that no documents related to my request were located:

I just want to note that this response does not indicate that there are documents containing this information, but that they are exempt because of being Cabinet documents as set out in Section 15 of the Access to Information Act.

So, there are no documents in the possession of either the Ministry of Health & Wellness or the Office of the Cabinet that contain information about the use of curfews as a measure to reduce the risk of the transmission of Covid-19 during the Easter, Labour Day or Emancipation and Independence public holidays this year. Documents dated either before or after these public holidays.

Increased curfew hours have been announced for the upcoming Heroes’ Day public holiday. I wonder if any documents containing information about this exist at the Ministry or the Cabinet Office?


Prime Minister’s Covid-19 Statement in Parliament: October 6, 2020

In Parliament this afternoon (October 6, 2020), Prime Minister Andrew Holness made a statement about the current situation concerning Covid-19 in Jamaica and announced a number of changes to the measures pertaining to the management of the pandemic. These measures will be found in the Disaster Risk Management Order No.14, which is not yet available. Some of the measures went into effect at 6pm this evening; others go into effect tomorrow.

Below is the text of the Prime Minister’s statement and I have also included a link to the recording of today’s sitting of the House.

Two areas will have additional measures imposed because of a spike in the number of cases of Covid-19 that have been reported. They are Whitfield Town in Kingston and Waterford in St Catherine. The boundaries of the communities are given below:

The Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) recording of today’s sitting of the House can be found at this link and allows for the checking of the text of the PM’s statement against delivery.


Disaster Risk Management Order No. 13 – Dated September 23, 2020

The Gazette of the most recent Disaster Risk Management Order is now available and I have posted a copy below. Prime Minister Holness announced the new or amended measures at a press conference on Tuesday (September 22, 2020).

Checks this afternoon of the ususal Ministry of Justice and Office of the Prime Minister’s websites showed that the Gazette of the new Order was not posted there, but the Ministry of Health & Wellness tweeted out a link to Order No. 13 on its website, which was a surprise.


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Disaster Risk Management Order No. 12 – Dated September 8, 2020

The Gazette of the Disaster Risk Management Order No. 12, which contains the changes announced by PM Holness on September 7, 2020, is now available.

The Gazetted copy of the Order has been posted on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister.


Disaster Risk Management Order No. 11 Amendments No. 3 & No. 4 – Dated August 27 & 30, 2020

These are the two most recent amendments to Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures)  (No. 11) Order, 2020, which is the current order in force.

Disaster Risk Management Order 11 Amendment 3 cover page

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 11) (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2020 – August 27 2020

Amendment No. 4 contains the protocols governing the access to voting for Election Day (September 3, 2020) for people in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19.

Disaster Risk Management Order No 11 Amendment 4 cover

Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 11) (Amendment) (No. 4) Order, 2020 – August 30 2020

 


Two Amendments to Disaster Risk Management Order No. 11 – Dated August 5 & 18, 2020

There are two amendments to Disaster Risk Management No. 11 Order, one dated August 5, 2020 & the other dated August 18, 2020. Here are copies of the gazetted amendments:

Disaster Risk Management No. 11 Order Amendment Aug 5 2020

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 11) (Amendment) Order 2020 – August 5 2020

Disaster Risk Management Order No 11 Amendment 2 - Aug 18 2020

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 11) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order – August 18 2020

The first of these amendments is posted on both the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Prime Minister‘s website, but as of now the second amendment has not been posted.


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Disaster Risk Management Order No. 10 – Dated July 15, 2020

The Gazette of the Disaster Risk Management Order No. 10 was posted on the website of the Ministry of Justice today (July 20, 2020). It contains measures announced by Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie in Parliament on July 14, 2020. The Gazette is dated July 15, 2020, although it was not available when I called Jamaica Printing Services on July 17 to ask  if I could obtain a copy.

Here is a copy of the Gazette:

Disaster Risk Management Order No 10 blog pic

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 10) Order, 2020

As of the time of posting my blog, the gazetted copy of the Order has been posted on the Ministry of Justice website, but not yet on the Office of the Prime Minister or Ministry of Health and Wellness websites.

 


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Disaster Risk Management Order No. 9 – Dated July 1, 2020

The Gazette of the most recent Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) Order was posted on three government websites this afternoon (July 9, 2020). The Gazette of this Order – No. 9 – is dated July 1, 2020, although it wasn’t gazetted on or before July 1. This doesn’t surprise me anymore, as it seems to be common with the gazetting of these Orders, that they are given a date which is earlier than the date on which they are actually gazetted.

A copy of the Gazette is provided here:

The Disaster Risk Management Order No 9 cover page blog pic

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No.9) Order – July 1 2020

I tweeted earlier this week about this ongoing, unsatisfactory situation regarding the delay in gazetting the Disaster Risk Management Orders.

SG tweet re no gazetted order - July 6 2020

 

OPM website Order No 9 posted July 9 2020 blog picThese are the links to the document on the Ministry of Justice website, the Office of the Prime Minister’s website and the Ministry of Health & Wellness’ website.


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Gazette of Disaster Risk Management Order No. 8 – Dated June 15, 2020

The electronic copy of the Gazette of the most recent Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures ) Order has now been posted on the websites of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Justice. This is Order No. 8. The hard copy was not yet available from the Jamaica Printing Services when I called this morning (June 19, 2020).

Here is a copy of the Gazette:

Disaster Risk Management Order No 8 blog pic

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 8) Order 2020 – June 15 2020

Order No. 8 is firmly dated June 15, 2020, though it obviously wasn’t gazetted on that date. On Tuesday night (June 16, 2020), Prime Minister Andrew Holness brought the draft order to the House for discussion, as has been his practice. No copies of the draft order were circulated to the Members of Parliament, which has been the recent practice.

AG Malahoo Forte Parliament 16-6-2020 PBCJDuring the discussion, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte responded to a question that had been posed by an Opposition MP and her preface to her response makes clear that the Gazette of Order No. 8 was not available at the time.

All right, so the Disaster Risk Management Enforcement Measures Number 8 Order was promulgated by the Prime Minister last week taking, took effect on the 15th, which was yesterday. This is the non-gazetted, it is being gazetted and should be completed by now, but this is it. You will see a number of improvement, clarity. Right, I’m just telling you. So, it, the law does not require the Order to be laid in the House, but it’s going to be brought here.

– Attorney General Malahoo Forte, Parliament, 16-6-2020

The PBCJ recording of the sitting of the House is available and the Attorney General’s comments begin at approx 5:47:40 in the recording.

Tracking when the Gazettes of the Covid-19 Orders become publicly available has really raised fo me the issue of the dating of the Gazettes containing these Orders, as the Gazette often carries a date prior to the date when it seems that the gazetting has actually taken place.

How is the date for the Gazette determined? Is it the date on which the measures are first broadcast by the Prime Minister, but not yet gazetted? Or the date on which measures come into effect, but not yet gazetted? Or when the final draft copy is sent for gazetting? Or when the Gazette is actually printed?

It is an obscure process, but can have some significant consequences. I will try to find out more.

I am also posting here a copy of an amendment that was made to the previous Order, Order No. 7. Just for completeness.

Disaster Risk Management Order No. 7 Amendment

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 7) (Amendment) Order 2020 – June 1 2020


Gazette of Disaster Risk Management Order No. 7 – Dated June 1, 2020

I continue to have concerns about the delay in the publishing of the Gazettes of the Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) Orders after measures have been announced at press briefings by Prime Minister Holness. On Sunday, May 31, 2020, the Prime Minister announced changes to the measures, some of which came into effect immediately and the following day. On Tuesday night, June 2, 2020, the Prime Minister made a presentation about the new measures in Parliament. The Prime Minister held another press briefing last night, at which he made reference to the gazetted order while talking about the measures. The Gazette of Order No. 7 – the written document containing all the details – although dated June 1, 2020 – only became available today, Saturday, June 6, 2020.

And a continuing concern is whether what is contained in the gazetted orders differs at all from what was previously announced by the Prime Minister.

Gazetted Order 7 cover blog pic

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No.7) Order, 2020 – June 1 2020

It is now posted on the Ministry of Justice website.