By Aaron Humes: Eagle eyes among social media denizens have caught Section 8(1) of the new public health regulations that came into force today, Monday.
After section 7 which deals with restriction of gatherings for a social purpose, the section reads, “8.–(1) The Minister may, on application made in writing, exempt any person from the restriction of gatherings for a social purpose under regulation 7, if the Minister considers it necessary to do so.”
It goes on to add that such an exemption may be subject to certain terms and conditions or only applied in specified circumstances or in relation to such activities specified in the instrument granting that exemption, which must be published in the Government Gazette.
But it was never announced, mind discussed, by Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa at Friday’s virtual press briefing, at which he made clear to say that restrictions on parties, gatherings and social events remain in place.
Indeed, we can recall no such provision for exemption in any of the regulations passed by the previous administration up to their defeat in the November General Elections.
One commenter called it “a sweetheart pass to party,” referring to the term coined by former Minister of National Security and Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, who was famously stingy with the privilege during the height of the pandemic.
Another said it looked like “Ministerial discretion”, something the now-ruling party had pledged to eliminate as one of its election promises.