WITH a sharp spike in covid19 cases – 38 – on Wednesday, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith says he will no longer be granting any group or person permission to hold public vigils and/or marches.
Griffith made this clear in a press release issued by the TTPS on Thursday in which he said that in recent weeks, he had been very accommodating to people and groups who requested permission to hold vigils, protests, meetings, and marches.
He agreed to grant permission across the board because of the issues highlighted across the country, and more particular, in light of the recent violent deaths of several women.
But Griffith said he had noted with concern that some of these gatherings turned out to be in contravention of the Public Health Ordinance Regulations, Section 3 (1), which states, that a person shall not, without reasonable justification be found at any public place where the number of persons gathered, at any time, exceeds ten.
The top cop said he noticed recent gatherings accounted for hundreds of people even though organisers of these events tried their very best to control the crowd which had gathered. As a result, Griffith said, he would not be entertaining any requests at this time for the holding of vigils and marches.
With regard to the upcoming Spiritual Shouter Baptist holiday and the Easter weekend, Griffith advised both the Shouter Baptist and Christian communities to ensure strict adherence to public health ordinance regulations during their upcoming religious events.
Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day will be celebrated next Tuesday while the Christian community will commemorate Easter celebrations beginning with Good Friday processions on April 2.
Griffith has asked the organisers to be more innovative, and instead of gathering in their hundreds, to have virtual events, including for the Stations of the Cross processions. He said says that every year, thousands participate in Shouter Baptist Day celebrations and the Easter vigils.
“But we are not in normal times. This month marked one year since the virus has been with us. So far, 141 people have died as a result of the virus and thousands were affected. The borders have been closed and there are restrictions in place to protect the country.
"We have noticed over the past year, some events with large gatherings caused a spike in cases. The TTPS has been on the front line ensuring that people observe the restrictions and adhere to the protocols.
"I know these upcoming events always attracted thousands of people, but this time, we have to be careful. I am asking the organisers of these events to ensure that their followers do the right thing," Griffith said.