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Police Commissioner Gary Griffith

The following is a press release from the TTPS:

Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, has once again thanked the public for adhering to the social distancing guidelines in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

On Wednesday, the CoP had expressed concern in a statement that businesses and citizens were not listening to the guidelines on social distancing which were laid out by the Chair of the National Security Council, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

The CoP noted that on Thursday, after submitting the solution to deal with this issue via asking all stakeholders to place markers six feet apart, the situation improved whereby banks, supermarkets, markets, other financial institutions, and pharmacies, adhered to this request, hence rectifying the issue. Today, the CoP, toured the east-west corridor from Arima to Portof-Spain “where every business place adhered to the call made by the TTPS on Wednesday for social distancing.” His tour followed concerns raised by Arima Mayor Lisa Morris that burgesses were not adhering to the social distancing guidelines. The CoP noted the many business places and banks along the east-west corridor complied and customers stood six feet apart outside the premises, using the markers placed by relevant store owners. “The TTPS was forced to take decisive action and threaten to close certain buildings if it was a case of lives being at risk. It gave us no pleasure to do so, however it was mandatory based on laws being broken, persons being at risk and the police adhering to the request Members of the public are asked to like and follow the TTPS via our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest news and information on matters of interest to the general public. 2 of the Prime Minister, requesting us (TTPS) to persuade all citizens to be responsible and adhere to the basic requirement of social distancing, which was not being done prior to that statement. We did what was required and the outcome shows, because after our request for all stakeholders to put markers outside their premises to guide customers, and my statement that some buildings could be shut down if customers continue to assemble tightly, we have seen a total turnaround in an issue that was the major factor that could have spread the virus. “The end justifies the means. My actions are not made to please people but to get the job done. It has been achieved. Let it be known however, that the TTPS would go through with my statement if our request for social distancing is not complied with.” The CoP found it curious that “some persons were upset by my statement, in which all I was asking was for the relevant owners do whatever it takes to adhere to the social distancing guidelines, and such premises could be temporarily closed, so lives could be saved, especially the elderly.” The CoP says that under Section 133 the Public Health Ordinance, Chapter 12:04, the Commissioner of Police can: (a) Enter on lands and buildings and inspect and examine the same and all things thereon or therein; (b) Do on any land or in any building any sanitary or other work authorized or directed; (c) Generally do, with respect to persons, places, land, buildings animals or things, whatever is necessary or expedient in order to carry out the foregoing provisions of this Part of this Ordinance, or any direction or requirement given or arising thereunder.” Therefore, when this section is considered, the police can enter any building and generally do what is expedient or whatever is necessary, to carry out the provisions of the Public Health Ordinance, which can include temporary closure.