Bayside Towers pool party

The matter of the COVID-19 regulations is under observation but it’s very difficult to legislate within private condominium complexes as this would also affect Housing Development communities, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said yesterday.

“The regulations are constantly under observation and subjected to advise from experts and medical authorities,” Al-Rawi added.

He made the point when asked about last Sunday’s incident where police were called to Bayside Towers by management there to deal with about 40 young people gathered at the complex’s poolside. However, no one was charged according to the COVID regulations about congregating. The situation has caused concern about double standards in enforcing the regulations.

Yesterday some social media comparisons were made between police’s statements that they couldn’t “just enter private property and police the situation” and alleged police statements of April that they have the authority to stop activities on private property that could affect lives during the COVID pandemic.

Al-Rawi said he couldn’t comment on last Sunday’s matter but had noted the media reports.

He said, “The police have the responsibility to enforce the law, politicians ought not to be involved in this—they must abide by law enforcement. I’ve been at many events in my constituencies and complied with police observations.”

He added: “I stand by what the police demonstrate they must do, as and when recommendations are to be pursued, we take that.”

On whether private pools would be added to the Public Health regulations, Al-Rawi didn’t comment. He, however, said the issue of legislating inside private condominium complexes wasn’t simple and that applied to HDC complexes also. He said overlegislating would also affect HDC complexes and similar places.

He said in formulating the regulations he’d been mindful of the effect on areas like HDC communities and of over-legislating.

“So Government has taken a very measured approach to the Public Health regulations.”

Apart from gated complexes, he said his constituency for instance also had housing developments, including in Olera Heights, Embacadere and Roy Joseph Street, San Fernando. He said the Bayshore Towers issue wasn’t much different to what might occur at Embacadere for instance.

Al-Rawi also said the UNC MP Dinesh Rambally’s statement on the pool party matter yesterday misrepresents the law as it currently stands.

On UNC criticisms that the regulations weren’t properly aired in Parliament, he said the regulations were done like in the United Kingdom and other Caribbean islands where parliamentary oversight wasn’t needed.

He said this was because of the immediacy of dangerous situations, such as what’s needed concerning the COVID virus.

Al Rawi said UNC’s arguments on the handling of the bill was disingenuous since he noted that a former UNC frontline official is involved in challenging the regulations and Quarantine Act, yet UNC MPs in Parliament wanted Government to bring the regulations to be discussed in Parliament.

“Their approach is laced with smartmanism. But they’d be challenging in court the same laws they helped to make— which isn’t so smart.”