Massive haul from COVID fines - St Thomas court collects $4.7 million in one day
A staggering $4.69 million was collected in fines for breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) in Morant Bay, St Thomas, on Wednesday.
According to the Court Administration Division, just over 70 persons were brought before the court for various breaches of the DRMA, which is the main legislation being used to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the persons were hit with fines as high as $200,000 for failing to wear masks in public places. It is understood that a total of $8.9 million in fines was imposed.
The high fines have attracted condemnation from several quarters of the society. There has also been outrage over claims that a 17-year-old was among those hit with a $200,000 fine. However, Kadiesh Fletcher, acting director of client services, communications and information at the Court Administration Division said that this was not the case.
"He was not fined $200,000. Minors are not ordinarily listed before the Criminal Court; this only occurs in instances where they are charged with an adult, and in those circumstances a parent or guardian is present," Fletcher said.
"The minor in question was charged and brought before the court as an adult. When his age was brought to the attention of the judge, he was admonished by the judge and the matter transferred to the Children's Court."
In the meantime, head of the St Thomas police, Superintendent of Police Allison Byfield, said that there is a high level of compliance with the DRMA in the parish.
"We do get compliance maybe a 90 per cent especially in the town area during the days. But outside of the town areas, like during the nights, persons tend to just let loose," Byfield told THE WEEKEND STAR.
"One of the problems we are experiencing is that some persons are hosting unauthorised events. They are taking the hills for it, the bushes, and so as soon as the police approach them, they run all over in the bushes. We have so far apprehend who we can and they are now before the courts," the senior cop said.
As of Wednesday, Jamaica has recorded a total of 81, 394 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with fatalities standing at 1,809. The parish has recorded 51 COVID-19 deaths, the third lowest in the island, behind Hanover (50) and Portland (35).
In addition, St Thomas has just over 1,400 active cases of COVID-19. The parish is responsible for 3,374 of the country's 80,959 recorded cases, the lowest on the island. However, the parish has been experiencing the fastest rise in infections in the island, moving 15 per cent between September 8 and 22.