Leader of Opposition Hon. Matthew Wale says, the government has to accept that Covid-19 is going to be here for a while, and the country needs to adjust to it and return to normalcy, instead of relying on State of Public Emergencies to deal with the effects brought about by the global pandemic.
Earlier, officials in a talkback show, warned that the government may have to release persons in quarantine if there was no extension of SoPE, an excuse which Hon. Wale referred to as lame, and an action that would have been seen irresponsible on the government’s part, if they did so.
Hon. Wale points out that using limitations in current laws for the quarantining of persons suspected of carrying the Covid-19 virus is no longer a justifiable ground for the ongoing extension of the State of Public Emergency (SoPE).
“Indeed, Covid-19 poses a serious threat to the public at large, but there is therefore justification in Parliament making amendments or enacting a specific legislation for pandemics such as Covid-19.
“We already have an Environment Health Act and a Quarantine Act in place. Minor amendments to these laws can easily address the concerns raised by Dr Rodgers and so it does not make sense as to why government would want to continue relying on the state of emergency,” says the Opposition Leader.
Hon. Wale goes on to add, “The government also had 8 months since the first declaration of the SoPE. This is ample time for necessary steps to have been taken to come up with a spate law, or amend existing laws to address any shortfalls. Instead, what we saw is, the government sat on this duty to the extent it once again, caught up with them. This is simply not good enough”.
He says the fact Solomon Islands now have positive cases is regrettable and must not be taken lightly. However, the Opposition Leader believes that stream lining all efforts is key to dealing with the current situation, especially in light of the scarce resource the country now has.
He stresses that continuing the state of emergency only clouds any serious efforts to focus activities on Covid-19, and rebuilding the economy.
“It is unfortunate that the government has resorted to the need for an extension of the emergency period. The government had so much time to set serious attention on completing the Health Emergency Bill, instead of focussing on what’s not important in this current situation,” the Opposition Leader further adds.