Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, has launched an investigation into an event at Queen’s Hall in St Ann's over the weekend, which he says had all the features of a Carnival band launch.
Griffith said as far as the TTPS is concerned, that event was a public party.
He noted that according to Section 4 (1) (d) of THE PUBLIC HEALTH [2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (2019-nCoV)] REGULATIONS, 2021, it is an offence to hold public parties or public fetes.
"The TTPS will launch an investigation into this event," Griffith said.
“While the event was carried on television and on social media platforms, the video footage was quite clear in that it showed numerous patrons inside Queen’s Hall dancing to the music of several artistes," he added.
CoP to meet managers of national performance spaces
The top cop said he also took note of a notice from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, indicating that four of their premises were open for business—Queen’s Hall, Naparima Bowl, the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), and the Southern Assembly for the Performing Arts (SAPA).
Griffith said the TTPS intends to meet with the Managers of these premises to explain to them that in the case of Queen’s Hall, there was certainly a breach of the Public Health Ordinance Regulations.
"The law was quite clear and there must be a level playing field for all," Griffith said.
The CoP also noted that he has been informed that similar events—like the one which took place at Queen’s Hall on Sunday—are being planned and being advertised on social media.
He added that promoters, in the absence of Carnival 2021, are trying to be creative by organising events in public spaces with all the ingredients of a party, or in some cases, a band launching.
The top cop is reminding these promoters and the public to be mindful of what has happened in other countries where such events took place, and that their health facilities became so overburdened that space in hospitals ran out.
He added that the TTPS intends to follow the Regulations with the sole purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The Police Commissioner said he also noticed that on weekends, the country’s beaches are overcrowded and that many persons were not wearing masks when they enter or leave the water or are seen eating or drinking.
He made it known that it makes it difficult for the TTPS to strictly enforce the wearing of mask regulations but made it clear that if the beaches become overcrowded or unmanageable:
“The TTPS can act by dispersing any crowd which threatens the safety of others.”
Culture Minister to meet management of national performance spaces
Meanwhile, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Senator Randall Mitchell, has called for a meeting with the Board and Management of all national performance spaces under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, to urgently revise the operations of these performance spaces in line with the letter, spirit and intent of the COVID-19 Regulations and Protocols.
The move comes after the Queen’s Hall event on Sunday featuring Sekon Star. Minister Mitchell reportedly expressed concerned over what he saw in the videos of the event.
Minister Mitchell says he was advised that the event, Sekon Sunday, was recorded to be broadcast. Invitations were issued to approximately 200 persons which is 30 percent, or well under the 50 percent capacity allowed by Queen’s Hall COVID-19 guidelines for the hosting of events at its venue.
An official statement issued by the ministry reports that all invitees were subjected to the following protocols, among others, which are in place at Queen’s Hall:
● Adherence to physical distancing
● Provision of name, address, phone contact and email address to allow for contact tracing
● Temperature check and symptom screening
● Sanitisation of hands upon entry using sinks for sanitizers
● Wearing of masks which must be kept on during the performance/activity
Minister Mitchell also is assuring the public of the Ministry’s commitment to Public Health Guidelines and Protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.