The Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS) has reported noticeable compliance with the 24-hour curfew and new measures implemented by the Government of Montserrat; effective March 28, 2020 at 6:00p.m. until April 14, 2020 at 12a.m.
Commissioner of Police, Steve Foster said the first couple of days showed persons did not fully understand the term 24 hour lockdown, as there were a lot of vehicles on the roads. However, in comparison to Wednesday April 1, 2020, the amount of vehicles on the road is far less, than what was initially observed.
Additionally, the Commissioner pointed out that visits to the supermarkets revealed that steps have been taken by the owners to ensure social distancing is in effect.
While these positives have been noted, the RMPS also identified some challenges which still need to be addressed. The Public Health (COVID-19 Control & Suppression) (No.2) Order makes provisions for essential workers to carry out their duties during the curfew period, but Mr. Foster said to further aid persons in complying with the restrictions, Heads of Departments need to review their essential workers list and create a further condensed list of essential workers within their respective departments.
Apart from these areas of compliance, the RMPS had to make several arrests during the period to date, and some of those arrested will now have to be taken before the courts to answer to charges.
“As of March 28, 2020 to today’s date April 3, 2020 the RMPS has conducted spot checks on 14 persons in order to verify their purpose of being out of their house during the 24-hour lockdown period. From that total, four persons will be advanced to court, on charges of breach to the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression) (no 2) Order SRO 22 of 2020 which carries a sentence of $500 or 3 months imprisonment or both,” explained Commissioner Foster.
Throughout the period, the RMPS also conducted visits to the 50 persons who are required to self-quarantine, as they would have returned to the island as of March 19. Based on the Public Health Order any person now arriving on Montserrat is required to self quarantine for 14 days. Commissioner noted that these visits will continue, and pointed out that out of the 50 persons, three persons who arrived as of March 19, have since left the island, and one has been arrested for breaching the directives which carries a sentence of $500 or 3 months imprisonment, or both.
Apart from carrying out their duties in line with the Public Health order, the RMPS has also responded to 16 reports in addition to their other tasks; such as sudden death, human smuggling, sexual harassment, dispute, among others. Two arrests have been made—one for human smuggling, which carries a prison sentence of 20 years imprisonment, $500,000 or both; while the other was for being armed with an offensive weapon, which carries a sentence of one-year imprisonment. These matters will be advanced to court.
Commissioner Foster also noted that the Fire and Rescue Service responded to 12 calls for the period. Those were eight ambulance requests, two medevacs and two COVID-19 related call outs (call outs to two suspected COVID-19 patients).
The RMPS is reviewing its strategy as the organization continues to work closely with the other stakeholders, therefore, Commissioner Foster pointed out that their current position may change depending on compliance, as spot checks may increase, physical check points may be created; and these will all impact the organization’s view on public compliance.