Last Updated on Sunday, 7 March 2021, 18:57 by Denis Chabrol
Prime Minister Mark Phillips on Sunday sought to assure Guyanese that the COVID-19 curfew and other measures are being enforced against anyone, and he promised that alleged unfair enforcement would be investigated.
“None is exempted and therefore none is above the law,” said Mr. Phillips who is also the Head of the COVID-19 Task Force.
The Prime Minister’s comments came hours after the Chairman of the Giftland Group, Roy Beepat accused police of shutting down three restaurants at Giftland Mall on Saturday night from 9 PM, but at the same time allowing Tower Hotel and Sleep-In/Carnival Casino to open.
Mr. Beepat said the police have a history of targeting the Giftland Mall dating back to Christmas Eve 2020 when police closed the public access road at 9:30 PM. He charged that police have been seeking to shut down businesses at the mall from as early as 7 PM or 8 PM. Divisional Police Commander, Senior Superintendent K. Pareshram said the restaurants were open after 10 PM Saturday, but Mr. Beepat insisted that was not so and challenged the police to explain how one of the workers was arrested at 9 PM.
But the Prime Minister said those claims would be the subject of a probe. “The National COVID-19 Task Force does not condone or support uneven and unfair enforcement of the Covid-19 measures. All such allegations will be noted and investigated forthwith,” he said. Mr. Beepat has appealed to the Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn to take action to ensure there is no unfair treatment.
Giftland Mall had “on many occasions” COVID-19 enforcement teams had cited Giftland’s management for violating the measures- mainly opening beyond 9:30 PM closing time, the Prime Minister noted. Mr. Beepat acknowledged that had been the case, but “afterwards we received our green light by spacing out tables and putting in measures.” He said all concessionaires also have received approval from the Task Force to open .
Mr. Phillips said all places of entertainment-restaurants and bars- must adhere to the measures which include closing for business no later than 9:30pm and so the “responsible thing for each business owner to do, is to ensure his/her business conforms to the law.
The former Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force also said the police would be tasked with investigating “secret location” events being put on by organisers who would face the court. “The organisers of secret location fetes will be investigated and prosecuted too,” he said. On Sunday, ironically a poster advertising an Easter Monday fete was posted up just outside the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.