The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith are refuting allegations of bias in the enforcement of the Public Health Ordinance’s COVID-19 Regulations, with regard to businesses that stay open or closed.

Commissioner Griffith is urging the public to report to police when they encounter a business continuing its operations, which may be in breach of the Regulations.

The TTPS was responding to a report in a daily newspaper, which alleges that the police are turning to blind eye to some businesses that may be in breach.

And Commissioner Griffith says until the Regulations are amended, such businesses will remain closed.

The full text of the TTPS statement, follows…

TTPS WOULD NOT SHOW ANY BIAS OR FLEXIBILITY IN RELATION TO STORES BEING OPENED OR CLOSED, OR ASSEMBLY IN LARGE GROUPS. IT WOULD BE ACTED UPON BASED ON THE PUBLIC HEALTH ORDINANCE REGULATION

In relation to reports of a certain clothing store on Queen Street, Port-of-Spain, which was opened up to yesterday, and based on this information being brought to the attention of the TTPS, Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, wishes to confirm that this, as well as all clothing stores are to be closed, and remain that way unless amendments are made to the Public Heath Ordinance Regulations.

The COP again wishes to remind the public that anyone with the belief that any business is opened in breach of the Regulations, they should inform the relevant authorities by contacting 555, or by sending messages, photographs or videos to 482-GARY, or the TTPS App, upon which it would be investigated and ascertain if such a business is in breach of the Regulations and if so, would be directed to be closed.

This procedure would be far more productive instead of some complaining, questioning, and making accusations that some stores are being “allowed” to open, whilst similar stores selling similar products, are directed to be closed.

The TTPS in no way would allow any form of bias towards enforcing the law and closure of any specific business, and allowing another similar business to remain open, but the relevant authorities of the TTPS cannot be everywhere, hence the request to inform the TTPS if there is the belief that anyone is breaching the Regulations, so the TTPS can act on it.

Unfortunately, in the need for a juicy story, this was not done by the Newsday, so they saw it fit to contact the Police Commissioner to ask why a store was still opened.

Newsday should note that the COP may not be aware of every store that is opened and every store that is not, and he cannot, and should not be giving an explanation every time there is a query of a store being opened or one being ordered to shut down.

The Regulations are very clear, and even though it has become a policy for all to wear a cloth mask in the absence of face masks, it gives no authority for any clothing store to be open.

What can be of more value, if there is indeed a legitimate concern rather than acquiring a story, the TTPS is again asking that all concerned citizens, including Newsday, report such concerns to the relevant contacts stated above, and all can be assured that it would be investigated and such places would be closed, if in breach of the Regulations, and failure to do so, would result in charges being laid.

Additionally, as much as it is worthy of some who are arranging to assist those in need during this period, the law cannot be broken when this effort is being achieved.

This includes persons congregating in large numbers, in close proximity of each other, even whilst participating in a worthy cause.

Crying and complaining about actions made by the Police would not deter the TTPS from adhering to their role and function, which is aimed at preserving life, and failure to abide with such instructions would cause the Police to take the necessary action.