PM: No bias in food shutdown

Dr Keith Rowley -
Dr Keith Rowley -

THE Prime Minister said no specific type of food had been targeted in new prohibitions on the vending of food, as public debate raged as to why established fast-food chains were selling takeaways, but doubles vendors had been shut down.

At a briefing on Monday at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Dr Rowley gave an update on the national lockdown against the covid19 pandemic.

He said as of Tuesday all restaurants must close.

Without naming any type of food, Rowley touched on the controversy.

“The conversation about who could sell food has become a matter of ‘ethnic exploitation’ by some people who have no intention of helping us with this problem, but to create as much manima as they could.”

Saying regulations never spoke of any particular menu, he said the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) had said street food can pose a health risk, and the Government is saying because of the risk of community spread of the virus at this point, certain closures should take place.

“Nobody spoke about the menu of any particular ethnic group.

“Restaurants were told, if you are going to serve food, do not entertain people consuming on the compound, and there’s to be no in-house dining.

“Today the position is: restaurants are to be closed from tomorrow.

“What we want out of all of this – malice to none, ill will to none – is that the individual human being will reduce their exposure and potential to become infected.”

Earlier, CMO Dr Roshan Parasram said that up to now, no law had banned the sale of street food, but itinerant vendors had been found to be slightly more of a health risk than non-itinerant.

Minister of National Security Stuart Young said fishermen may continue to go out fishing ,as they are exempt from the covid19 lockdown.

He said the fishermen may also vend, but must ensure proper social distancing.

CoP: roadside vending illegal

Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith told Newsday the police will now rein in their previous tolerance of roadside vending.

“If you want to go to the letter of the law, all types of roadside vending are illegal, to start with. The people who are selling all these things on the side of the road, they are all illegal,” he said.

“Due to our culture, we have become very flexible,” Griffith said, adding that he has the power to shut down all such vendors.

He related the recent curbs on roadside food vending because of the covid19 pandemic.

“What we have at this time is that roadside vending, or mobile vending, is not to be entertained.”

Griffith said roadside vending does not only occur if someone sets up a table to sell a product.

“If it is in a concrete structure but the people are lining up on the side of the road to get it, it is still roadside vending.”

Asked if the law discriminates against roadside vendors (such as doubles vendors) in favour of fast-food chains, he replied no, saying the two groups are not the same.

“If you decide to set up something and you are inside a building just temporarily and every day you bring items to sell by sticking your hand through a railing to give to customers lined up on the pavement, that is still deemed roadside vending,” he elaborated.

Likewise, he said many gyro outlets were also deemed as roadside vending.

“That is the reason we are going down that road.”


"PM: No bias in food shutdown"

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