Griffith: Keep a doctor's note close if not wearing mask

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith puts on his mask during a media briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain. - Angelo Marcelle
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith puts on his mask during a media briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain. - Angelo Marcelle

Police have advised people to keep in their possession notes and doctors' orders which hinder them from wearing masks.

On Wednesday at the weekly police press briefing at the Police Administration building in Port of Spain, Commissioner Gary Griffith gave the advice while speaking to reporters.

He was responding to questions about the new regulations making masks mandatory.

The regulation says that people could be fined $1,000 if they are found without masks, except for a few instances, including having a mental or medical condition which hinders them from wearing one.

The regulation includes children older than eight.

He warned, “This is not a situation where everyone with asthma can say, 'Well, I have asthma so I am not wearing a mask.' We are asking you that you keep that paperwork in your possession, because if you are stopped by a police officer, obviously the officer will have to give you a ticket (if you don’t wear your mask). And for mental illness...well...unless you have a certificate that says you are mad...”

The commissioner said since the law was passed, police have used the power of persuasion on people seen without masks. He said for the most part people have been responsible and have been complying with the laws, whether through an abundance of common sense or fear of being ticketed.

“This is a matter of national security and concern. We are trying to use persuasion and remind people as much as possible, rather than being high-handed.

"Of course if we see a nine-year-old child picking mangoes at the side of the road we are not going to rush in there to give tickets. In these times a $1,000 ticket could be a lot for a family.

"If, however, two 16-year-olds are being obnoxious and refuse to listen, then yes, tickets flying left, right and centre.”

In an earlier report, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said the clause about an underlying medical, physical or mental condition was not specifically defined. He said if you have a reasonable cause for not wearing a mask, you would first have to justify it to a police officer. Barring that, you can justify yourself in court, if you choose to challenge the ticket.

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"Griffith: Keep a doctor’s note close if not wearing mask"

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