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The Legality and Enforceability of 'Stay-at-Home' Orders: The Appropriate Response to Covid-19 by Trinidad and Tobago.

Timothy A. Affonso

Timothy Andrew Affonso

Commonwealth Law Bulletin





The threat posed by the Novel-Coronavirus or Covid-19 is unprecedented. It presents unanticipated challenges to States globally as they seek to protect their citizens from the effects of the virus. Some argue that the pandemic status of Covid-19 triggers national security concerns and justifies the taking of executive action to restrict rights of nationals. Perhaps the measure that is most tangibly felt is the widely used “stay-at-home” orders. While, it can be seen to be a necessary weapon in the arsenal of pandemic-fighting, enforcing these orders can create legal issues for governments. Moreover, it is in these moments of national security that excessive police powers can emerge. The struggle for any democratic government will be to balance the protection of citizens with the maintenance of legality and, by extension, constitutionality. This is the discussion that will be had in this paper as it relates to the measures adopted by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) in dealing with the threat posed by Covid-19. This discussion is particularly important as the steps taken to address the spread of the virus are all grounded in Regulations pursuant to the Public Health Ordinance. The effect of these steps is to directly limit the movement of persons. However, can this limitation of the movement of persons through “stay-at-home” orders by the government be enforced? Furthermore, if the measure is adopted pursuant to a goal of public health and public security, what would be the most appropriate route to achieve the outcome of restricted public movement legally? This article seeks to address these questions.


Taylor and Francis


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