The number of people allowed to gather in public spaces has been reduced from ten to five as a revised measure to discourage gatherings and minimise the spread of the covid19 virus. The announcement was made on Tuesday by National Security Minister Stuart Young at a media briefing hosted by the Ministry of Health.
The measure has been put in place via an amendment to the Public Health Ordinance. It does not include gatherings outside supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and other essential services.Still, Young asked the public to be socially responsible as his concerns over clusters outside supermarkets and banks continues to grow. While this new measure isn’t focused on just “arresting people”, Young said police are prepared to do what is necessary to encourage citizens to adhere to the orders “within the parameters and confinement of the law.”
“The police are going to continue conducting exercises where they are entitled to ask (people) where they are going to. This is not about arresting people, this is the last thing we want to do.”He said the public should also expect police roadblocks daily.Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, responding to a question by the media, said it is too early to say when there can be a return to normalcy.He said the focus should not be about citizens continuing with their lives, but about the ongoing fight against the pandemic.“The only thing that will flatten the curve is to stay home, isolate and quarantine yourself, and be responsible.“Let’s pretend we are fighting a war. In any war, there must be an exit strategy to talk about. If we start to talk about that, the public will be lulled into a sense that ‘this thing is coming to an end, let us start to congregate’ or ‘let us start to go back to normal.’“We want to keep the pressure on, we want to keep a lid on this thing. Again, the only message we want to push is ‘stay home, stay safe, save lives.’”Deyalsingh said there is no target number of cases to trigger the government to take more action in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.
Young said government has been acting based on advice from medical experts. He said, setting a number for when the government should take stricter action “isn’t the best approach.” “Up until March 19, we had nine cases. On March 21 we had 49 cases. We went in 24 hours from nine to 49. If we had set a threshold we would have triggered that, but those 40 came from one incident. It didn’t factor into a number to trigger action. If we take out those 40, the number right now is reasonable.”He made another plea to workers in industries deemed non-essential at this time, particularly the 19,000 returning nationals, to stay home or risk triggering an increase in covid19 cases through community spread.