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Futsal organisers “can” be punished for violating COVID rules- Prime Minister

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 January 2022, 20:28 by Denis Chabrol

Unmasked footballers and spectators at the National Sports Hall.

Prime Minister Mark Phillips on Tuesday only said that the organisers of the Futsal football game at the National Sports Hall “can” be punished for breaching the COVID guidelines but he dodged the question on whether sanctions would be imposed.

“The government granted approval for these activities with the understanding that the organisers will follow established protocols …failing which we will act which can involve sanctions,” he said. Pressed on whether sanctions would be imposed in this instance, he repeated “failing which we will act which can involve sanctions.”

Among those present at the Futsal game were Public Works Minister Juan Edghill and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Charles Ramson as well as the promoters Kashif and Shanghai, but despite this the Prime Minister said government was not ignoring violations of its own COVID guidelines. “No, no, no! The government did not turn a blind eye,” he said. Many of the players and spectators in the packed National Sports Hall were see very close to each other and not wearing masks. The Guyana Football Federation was also identified as one of the organisers.

Mr. Phillips said all reports of violations would be probed and organisers could be penalised. “Just look at what has happened in the past. There are other sport organisations that were sanctioned and you have the information because you reported on it so you just use that as a measure but we’re committed to investigating and taking on board all reports of breaches once approval is granted and dealing condignly because we have to protect the people of Guyana,” he said.

The Prime Minister said organisers of events, who are granted approval, must be responsible and follow the protocols.

The opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) has accused the government of protecting its cronies even in the face of clear violation of the COVID guidelines.