PHI says mandatory quarantine not legally binding

By Vyshnavy Velrajh and Indika Sri Aravinda

The arrests and mandatory quarantine carried out by Police pertaining to COVID-19 is not legally binding, the Public Health Inspectors Union (PHIU) said.

President of the Union Upul Rohana told the Colombo Gazette that quarantine regulations implemented with regard to COVID-19 in Sri Lanka are not legally binding.

“Quarantine law in Sri Lanka is primarily governed under Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance No. 03 of 1897 (QPDO). The ordinance was introduced (inter-alia) to prevent the introduction of plague and all contagious or infectious diseases to Sri Lanka and the spread of such diseases in and outside Sri Lanka. This is the main law pertaining to quarantine and infectious diseases in Sri Lanka. This is a basic written document’, he explained.

Upula Rohana said that after 1897, additional regulations that had to be incorporated into this law in line with the current situation in the country, were included via a Gazette issued by the Minister of Health.

However, a Gazette on the regulations on COVID-19 has not been issued as yet, making it legally non- binding, he said.

Rohana said thereby, regulations such as wearing of face masks, mandatory quarantine and social distancing are considered as guidelines issued on COVID-19 and not law.

“People are being arrested and placed in mandatory quarantine by the Police for failing to abide or support the guidelines on COVID-19. These cannot be considered as punishments. These are measures taken with regard to COVID-19’, he said.

Upul Rohana added that the public can challenge their arrests and mandatory quarantine process in court as they are not legally binding. (Colombo Gazette)

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