PNM meeting flouts covid19 regulations

Secretary of Health Tracy Davidson-Celestine -
Secretary of Health Tracy Davidson-Celestine -

Secretary of Health Tracy Davidson-Celestine may have played a part in covid19 health regulations being flouted.

Newsday was informed a political meeting was held at Signal Hill community centre on Tuesday evening.

According to a reliable source, the crowd at the meeting well exceeded the five permitted by the Public Health Regulations.

Political meetings throughout the country have been held virtually since restrictions against gathering went into effect. Schools and religious institutions have also been closed to curb the spread of covid19.

At Tuesday's meeting, Davidson-Celestine made an announcement on the electoral district she planned to contest at the THA elections, constitutionally due in 2021. The PNM Tobago Council political leader said, "I have made the decision that I would contest this electoral district (Signal Hill/Lambeau)."

Questioned on Wednesday about the measures put in place by the party to camapign while adhering to covid19 regulations, PNM Tobago Council chairman Stanford Callender said that he was "made aware of the meeting after the fact and was shocked."

Callender said the party has received a draft report from the People’s National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council five-member committee appointed to manage the nomination process and they will meet again in two weeks time to work out the campaign aspect. This committee, he said is expected to come up with systems and procedures to minimise the gathering of individuals.

He said: “That committee met, we have a draft report that we are going to flesh out and those will be some of the guidelines that we would inform party groups that are going to go into the process of doing their nomination exercise.”

Addressing a PNM news conference on Monday, Callender said normally party groups would meet and discuss a prospective candidate or candidates and vote at a meeting, however that would not be encouraged this time around.

“Most of these things... the party groups would have to decide to do most of their consultation things virtually. That is where the committee that we have established is to come up with systems and procedures to minimise the gathering of individuals but have a system that is open, free and fair to allow the process to be done in a matter that protects the membership and minimise exposure.

"It doesn’t make much sense that we conduct an election disregarding the protocols and at the end of the day, you have thousands of people who cannot participate or are no longer with us because of our carelessness. We are going to try to lead by example and ensure that minimum exposure is given to the members of the party as we go through this process,” he said.

PNM Tobago Council PRO Kwesi DesVignes noted it is a challenge to adjust to this new normal.

“The election is no different as we are accustomed to a particular type of campaigning in Tobago which we would have to adjust to. We are looking at how we can adjust to this new normal as a party in terms of adjusting our means of canvassing, voter engagement and so on. Of course, the safety of our citizens are our utmost priority because there is no point to taking the reigns of government and then you have no people to govern, or no people to serve, for that matter, and I think it's critical that we all look towards ensuring... it may be difficult but it's not impossible,” he said.

Efforts to contact Davidson-Celestine on Wednesday were futile as calls and messages to her cellphone went unanswered.

As of Wednesday, Tobago had 58 cases of covid19, including 16 active cases. The Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development said there were ten patients in the covid19 treatment facility, one person in ICU and five in a step-down facility.


"PNM meeting flouts covid19 regulations"

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