Police, Giftland at odds over enforcement of COVID-19 curfew

Last Updated on Sunday, 7 March 2021, 15:56 by Denis Chabrol

Giftland Group and the Guyana Police Force are at odds over accusations by that company that it is being unfairly targeted by police in the enforcement of the COVID-19 curfew.

Chairman of the Giftland Group, Roy Beepat said the latest instance was on Saturday night when three staff members- one each from the three mall restaurants- were arrested after the police’s “unethical demands were refused.”

Mr. Beepat said the Temp, Boardroom and Level restaurants were all closed from by 9 PM and emptied by 9:30 PM. ” We must emphasize that none of these concessions were in breach of any Laws or regulation, this was just vindictive and spitefully done by abuse of power,” he said.

However, Region Four Divisional Commander, Senior Superintendent K. Pareshram denied Mr. Beepat’s claims and said the COVID-19 curfew was enforced after 10 PM. “I know that we are enforcing the national COVID order which states that by 9:30 all non-essential businesses must be closed,”  the Commander said. He said police went to Giftland after 10 O’clock Saturday night.

But Mr. Beepat charged that the Guyana Police Force visits to force closure of the Mall shops as early as 7 PM and 8 PM, although the curfew for closing is 9.30 PM.

Mr. Pareshram also rejected Mr. Beepat’s claims that businesses such as Sleep-in/ Carnival Casino and Tower Hotel were allowed to open the doors without the police force taking action. The police officer recalled that last week Tower Hotel representatives appeared before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court for allegedly violating the order.

The Divisional Commander said Tower Hotel was “not” opened Saturday after 9:30 PM and “I’m not aware” that Sleep-In was opened beyond the curfew hours.

The Chairman of the Giftland Group called on Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn to intervene and ensure that businesses are not unfairly targeted. “We are now publicly and kindly requesting that the Home Affairs Minister steps in and ensures that all Guyanese businesses, and our individual patrons are treated with equality,” Mr. Beepat said.

The businessman said Giftland Mall has no objections to curfews or regulations, but he called for them to be applied fairly.