POLICE Commissioner Gary Griffith, like many citizens, raced to Maracas Beach on Sunday as his first “outing” since completing quarantine. But he was not there to bathe.
Griffith joked that it was “a hard day” for him watching people enjoying themselves at the beach while he was working.
He stopped at the Maracas lookout and spoke with the media after touring the beach, creating a stir among beachgoers, who tucked away towels and sunblock to capture images of him strolling in the sand.
“From what I saw, 99 per cent were wearing their mask, and not because the commissioner was there – well, maybe some did.”
In a media release last week, Griffith said he noticed citizens were relaxed about the reduced covid19 cases and were not wearing masks in public.
“It is not that I am going after people and giving them tickets where the fine is $1,000. But they must be responsible at this time, as two of the measures to prevent the spread of the virus are to wear your mask and maintain social distancing. That was not the case last weekend.”
On Sunday, he said it seemed as though people were getting the messag,e as they were masked up. He highlighted, though, that the beach “is a very technical situation,” as there is no clear demarcation between being in the water and not. However, “by and large the people acted with responsibility and maturity.
“I have been closely monitoring what was happening and was a little concerned with a lack of police presence on the beaches. This is not about how many tickets the police give out. If we don't give out any tickets we will be pleased. Last week saw thousands on the beach and no masks worn.”
Griffith said to combat this, police embarked on a comprehensive education drive which showed results.
When Newsday visited, the mask-wearing was not as he described, as many people on the sand pulled the masks below their noses.
Also commenting on the issue was Snr Supt Winston Maharaj, who said tickets were issued in his division for non-compliance with the mandatory mask-wearing, but none at the beaches. Griffith said under Maharaj some 100 officers will be assigned to patrol the beaches in the area, which include Tyrico, La Cuevas and Maracas, to ensure compliance with the law.
On the issue of bars, Griffith clarified that consumption of alcohol on the precincts of a bar is in violation of the Public Health Ordinance.
Last week, police officers ticketed several people who were drinking alcohol outside a bar on Ariapita Avenue.
While bars are allowed to sell alcohol, they are prohibited from allowing in-house drinking and drinking on the premises, Restaurants are allowed to have in-house dining without the sale of alcohol.
“As the Prime Minister said, if the bar can hold 50 people inside and now they converge outside the bar, it is even worse. You are escalating the situation by trying to beat the system. I am not going to allow to the system to be beaten.”
Griffith added that he has the power to and will shut down bars that allow people to breach the laws.