COVID-19 June 23, 2020 | 8:06 am

The Dominican Republic’s population in a dilemma: wear masks or pay a fine

This measure of legal coercion comes in line with an unstoppable increase in the number of deaths from coronavirus, which according to the latest Health report rose to 669, with a figure of 27, 370 people infected.

Santo Domingo, DR

Without having a clear and precise framework that establishes an application mechanism, a resolution issued yesterday by the Ministry of Public Health obliges citizens to use masks in public and private spaces, and penalizes with varying fines from one to 10 minimum wages, in case of violation, although it leaves unresolved key issues such as which authority should impose the sanction related to the minimum wage, and based on which criteria the level of this penalty will be established.

This legal coercion measure comes in line with an unstoppable increase in the number of deaths and infections due to coronavirus, which previously led the Government to suspend the move to Phase III of the economic and labor de-escalation and to tighten actions to prevent infections, such as compliance with the curfew, mandatory use of a mask, closure of businesses and fines.

Thus, with this provision, the population is placed before an option: wearing a mask or paying a fine.

The measure, released yesterday by Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas, is contained in resolution 000016.

Another of the several cases of uncertainty detected in this resolution is that it does not explain the type of minimum wage to apply since there is no fixed standard and there are different minimum wage scales in the country.

The public national minimum wage is RD $ 10,500.00; from large companies, RD $ 17,610.00; medium-sized companies, RD $ 12,730.00, and that of small companies, RD $ 10,730.00.

The provision aims to guarantee that citizens do not circulate without using face masks, as a preventive measure against Covid-19, which to date has caused 669 deaths and 27,370 confirmed by laboratory tests.

Among other uncertainties, the Public Health measure leaves unresolved key issues such as which authority should impose the sanction related to the minimum wage on those citizens who do not wear a mask, and based on which criteria the level of this penalty will be established.

 

The resolution establishes, first, the mandatory use of masks in public and private spaces for collective use, as a measure to mitigate and control the spread of the disease.

It establishes that based on article 153, numeral 1, of the General Health Law 42 -01, failure to comply with the measures provided in that resolution may be sanctioned with fines of between one and 10 minimum wages. And it exhorts the population to observe the other hygiene and physical distancing measures recommended by the authorities and specialized agencies.

Surveillance and compliance

The resolution instructs Public Health officials and institutions of the National National Health System to adopt the necessary measures to ensure compliance.

It was also forwarded to the Ministries of Defense and Interior and Police, as well as to the National Police, for their information.

The Health Minister drew the attention of people who congregate in places of recreation, violating the established and recommended distancing measures, warning that if these places of entertainment are not accepted, they will be intervened.