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St. Eustatius: violators of quarantine face prison sentence, $2,800 fine

There are currently 67 persons in self-quarantine on St. Eustatius. The Public Entity St. Eusta­tius will know if any of these persons are positive or nega­tive for the coronavirus CO­VID-19 on Sunday, April 5, Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij said. Inspec­tor Chief of Basic Police Care in St. Eustatius, Robel­to Hodge said the crisis team has learned that a number of people have not been ad­hering to the self-quarantine guidelines.

Statia’s Inspector Chief of Basic Police Care, Robelto Hodge

Under the recently enacted Emergency Ordinance it is forbidden for more than 50 people to gather in one place; also persons in self-quarantine have to adhere to certain rules. The emer­gency ordinance was extend­ed from April 1 to April 15, 2020.

The chief said the police would enforce these guide­lines under the Emergency Ordinance. “We receive our orders from the Governor and we’re going to execute these orders. As Chief of Police I have instructed my officers to strictly enforce or­ders,” Hodge said.

He said he appreciates all those who abide by the law and asked them to continue to do so. “The police often­times depend on your coop­eration … and together we are all responsible for our own safety. Our orders are clear: we will ensure public order and safety as … out­lined [in the — Ed.] Emer­gency Ordinance.”

Chief Hodge specifically gave warning to individu­als who were placed in self-quarantine. “This measure is not a request. You must ad­here to the guidelines. If the police meet you themselves or if we have enough written statements that you are not complying with the guide­lines where you are ventur­ing out in public by foot or in a vehicle, you will be ar­rested,” Hodge said.

The police chief said ev­eryone on the quarantine list had been informed of the quarantine guidelines. If persons have any ques­tion or in case they need clarification they should call the Health Department at tel. 318-2981 or contact the police at tel. 318-2333 or ho­tline 912. Those individuals also received the guidelines in writing. Persons in self-quarantine are also in daily contact with the Health De­partment. “It is important that you adhere to their guidance,” Hodge said.

The police have teamed up with members of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee and sworn-in members of the BAVPOL auxiliary police to increase surveil­lance.

Persons in violation of the quarantine order will receive a second-category fine with a maximum of US $2,800. “This is a very hefty amount and we are hoping that we do not have to reach that far and that the people just comply and do the right thing and keep us all safe,” Hodge said.

If a person consistently con­tinues to ignore the guidelines, the individual will be arrested. After a third fine, arrest will follow with all legal procedures being fol­lowed from that point.

“Because we are all respon­sible for our own safety,” the chief encouraged every­one who is concerned about their safety to call the police when they see someone who should have been in quar­antine, in public. He urged people to stay on the line to give a witness statement, inform the police about the quarantine violator’s loca­tion and provide a descrip­tion of the person, what they are wearing, who they are with and in what vehicle they were driving so that the police can meet that person.

If possible, Hodge asked for that person to stay on the scene until the police arrive or take a photograph of the violator in question. The Chief is also asking that persons who see violators out and about give a witness statement to the police.

“This is a serious situa­tion and people … need to comply with the law. These measures are needed at this moment because of the seri­ousness of the situation. The safety of the entire island is in jeopardy if you are not adhering to the law concern­ing non-compliance with the quarantine order. I hope that we can pass this period as incident-free as possible,” Hodge said.

The Daily Herald.

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