The work of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit is not to “lock up or charge” people says Ronald Chapman who has however put the public on notice that his officers would be going after persons who use social media to facilitate face-to-face business.
Chapman sounded the warning after the monitoring unit brought the first batch of COVID-19 protocol breachers before the law court.
“We had a young lady who decided during Valentine’s Day that she is going to go out and deliver cakes. Now we found out that she was positive. So I am sending her a clear signal now, I hope she knows, that she will be walking straight out of Harrisons Point straight before the laws courts. We are not accepting this sort of behaviour.”
Speaking to reporters outside the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court this morning Chapman who is the head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, acknowledged that persons have been selling food and other items on the Internet and then delivering the orders.
“We have a number of reports of that nature and we have been investigating them. So far some of them are fake but for those persons who think they can advertise via the Internet then deliver or someone go to their home and pick up and that sought of stuff – we will find them,” he warned. “It is only two weeks, can’t we be disciplined for two weeks? Just two weeks until we bring this disease under control and with the advent of the vaccine we can be out of this thing in two weeks. Just let’s all do our part.”
Several persons including a number of shop owners were hauled before Chief Magistrate Ian Weeks today by the unit on allegations of breaching the island’s COVID-19 laws.
Three of them – a father and son as well as a businessman – were remanded to Her Majesty’s Dodds Prison, for 28 days, to await their fates after admitting to their charges.
Keith and Nathan Weithers of Alleyne’s Avenue, Bayland, St Michael both pleaded guilty to holding a backyard lime on February 7.
Owner of Caribbean Heat, Hamenauth Sarnedranauth, of Tudor Street, St Michael admitted to failing to keep his establishment closed on two occasions – February 14 and 16.
Several others plead not guilty to their charges and will go on trial in May before Chief Magistrate Weekes who has sole responsibility to hear these cases.
“We are eagerly looking forward to having those cases heard but more than anything else, we are appealing to Barbadians not find yourself in this position where you stand before a law court defending yourself against what should not be done. Please stay at home, please follow the protocols, follow the edicts of the Emergency Management Order.
“My job is not to lock up people, my job is not to charge people, our job is to secure the health of Barbadians. We are asking the public, please don’t find yourself here where you are remanded for 28 days and then you are fined.
“Please do what is right – stay out of those little bars . . . [stop] the home deliveries, stay out of those little rum shops. As one social media post said the hair and the nails are not that important, the need to go to the barber is not that important, the need to go and see a friend you may think is safe is not that important.
“We have two more weeks of lockdown let’s hold it tight, hold down, lower the temperature and let us break the back of this disease. Let us break the transmission cycle and get Barbados back on track,” Chapman pleaded.
He also revealed that despite information in the public domain that persons had been charged for holding fetes and limes during the national pause persons continued to flout the law across all constituencies.
“We are still seeing the problem and this is why I am hoping that what happened today sends a clear signal to Barbadians that they need to stop.
“There is an order which says keep off the streets unless you need to go somewhere and for those persons who are going to the supermarket every day for two things just because they want to get out the house, I want to tell them stay at home. We need to get this thing under control. We have households of 10s and 5s who are now going to be tested. This is not a good situation,” he added even as he raised concern that two prison officers were among those charged for breaching the protocols.
“I don’t even know if I can make a comment on that one, it is particularly concerning. It tells me a number of things, that one – either we are not getting the message out there strong enough or two, persons feel that they are not necessarily beholden to the regulations, which they are. I would hope that this is not a continuing trend and I would hope that after today’s proceedings we see a lowering of the temperature with respect to hanging out in bars and the little places that they think that they are not seen.
“I must tell Barbadians, most, if not all of the cases that we would have brought law court are cases where we get tipoffs. People are seeing you and they are quietly reporting you.
“I want Barbadians to know that any report they make, they don’t have to give their name, their number, their address, they just have to tell us where something is happening and we respond because we really need to get this thing under control,” he added.