Hours after police officers stopped the sale of the self-titled “deconstructed” doubles at a gas station and convenience store on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith offered an apology to the business place, rescinded the act and allowed sales to resume.
Police officers had visited the St Christopher’s Service Station early yesterday and told general manager Andre James and his staff that the popular local delicacy could not be sold to the public. The officers explained that since food is prepared in-house, like a restaurant, it was in contravention of the Public Health Ordinance in effect to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“They asked that we not continue the sale of processed foods from today (yesterday). They were very gracious in allowing us to get rid of what we had today. That includes the doubles, the meals that we sell and prepare out of the kitchen,” James told Guardian Media.
Asked about the other meals the service station sold, such as sandwiches, beef patties and other pies, he said, “The officers said that the sandwiches are fine, they’ll let us go ahead with the sandwiches.”
He added, “They were doing what they were instructed to do. We promised them we would comply with their instructions. No grievance, no complaint.”
Officers also reportedly stopped the sale of pre-packed food at Massy Stores’ Woodbrook branch yesterday as well.
But hours later when he was contacted for comment Griffith admitted that the officers had made an error.
“One or two officers probably misinterpreted [the] regulations. It happens.”
Griffith went further by issuing a release explaining the situation and offering an apology to both businesses.
“In the first instance, police officers stopped the sale of packaged “deconstructed doubles,” as well as other pre-packaged meals at St Christopher’s Service Station, Wrightson Road, Woodbrook,” the release stated.
The TTPS’s release added, “Police officers also ordered the kitchen at Massy Stores Limited, French Street, Woodbrook, to be closed and that the sale of pre-packaged food items be stopped.
“Commissioner Griffith said this was done in error. When he was made aware, the CoP reminded the relevant officers in the particular division of the regulations of the Public Health Ordinance, which allow for the preparation and sale of such pre-packaged items.”
Clause Five of the latest version of the Public Health Ordinance states: “For the avoidance of doubt, street vending of food and beverages and all retail food services (including restaurants in-house dining and takeaway services), except discount stores, markets, supermarkets, fruit stalls or shops, vegetable stalls or shops, bakeries and “parlours,” for the provision of food or other necessities of life, shall be closed for operation during the period set out in regulation 10.”
The police’s action at the St Christopher’s Service Station quickly started trending on social media and drew several comments from users.
But after Griffith rescinded the act, James came out in defence of the TTPS and thanked the public for their support.
“We would like to thank T&T for your amazing support and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and those in authority for your consideration on this matter. We are delighted to be able to serve you with “ORIGINAL FAT BOY doubles” and our other pre-packaged “good to go meals” from 6 am on Tuesday,” a release from the station said.
The pre-packaged doubles have been a hot seller since St Christopher’s introduced them Friday, with over 900 doubles packages (3,600 doubles) sold as of yesterday. The “deconstructed” doubles are sold in a container with the bara and channa separately to maintain freshness while condiments are picked up at the sales counter.