Police union wants tighter quarantine measures
Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen last week announced that a new bill authorising police to enforce compliance with quarantine protocols would be submitted to Parliament this week.
However, on Tuesday he declared that the bill, known as the epidemic bill, would be temporarily withdrawn, arguing that the infringement of personal liberties incurred by such a law overrides the current severity of the corona crisis, as the infection curve now appears to be flattening out.
This has caused some concern for the police, and the police union yesterday called on the government urging it to reconsider its withdrawal of the bill.
Police left powerless
“It’s a very nice idea to leave everything in the hands of each individual citizen, but what about those who do not follow the guidelines?” asks Absalon Áargarð, chairman of the police union.
With the existing laws, police are not authorised to enforce quarantine rules, which according to Áargarð can have disastrous consequences.
“We have an example of an infected individual who refused to go into voluntary quarantine and insisted on behaving as if nothing was wrong,” he says. “We had no right to force this person to go into isolation. Luckily, the problem was solved after a while, but it was a very difficult situation.”
Asked whether the authority granted by the new epidemic law would not infringe on constitutional rights such as the right to privacy and the freedom of movement, and possibly also lead to a misuse of power, Áargarð says that the current situation cannot be interpreted as anything other than a state of emergency.
“An epidemic law in itself doesn’t do anything. But without such a law, we do not even have the option to step in and interfere in situations which may have disastrous consequences for the entire population.”
Translated by prosa.fo