Health Minister urges restraint after rum caravan complaints

Patrons gather at one of the bars along Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain, last month after health regulations were rolled out to make them safe zones.  - AYANNA KINSALE
Patrons gather at one of the bars along Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain, last month after health regulations were rolled out to make them safe zones. - AYANNA KINSALE

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is once again warning against any recreational activity which encourages people to gather in numbers larger than ten after concerns were raised about a rum producer mobile caravan paraded along Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain on Friday.

Speaking at Saturday’s Ministry of Health media conference, Deyalsingh said while he was unaware about the Friday's promotion, he said, recent events like the protest action at the Queen's Park Savannah defeated the efforts by the government to contain the spread of the virus.

Sunday Newsday pointed to the latest promotion by Angostura Ltd, which included trucks outfitted with glass casings where masqueraders and promotion girls were inside dancing to soca music, to Deyalsingh after complaints were raised by the public.

The trucks were seen driving through Ariapita Avenue on Friday escorted by police.

Sunday Newsday reached out to police public information officer Sheridon Hill to find out the criteria for requesting a police escort for motorcades when health protocols were in place.

He said approval was granted by the TTPS to conduct the promotional event with specific guidelines but after careful review of a video clip, they did not comply with the established terms and conditions of the permission. He said the police intends to meet with the organisaiton on the matter.

Deyalsingh said police cannot be present everywhere he urged the public to exercise social responsibility.

“We ask all people, whether corporate, individual or groups or in your homes, any type of gathering at this time is something you should think twice or three times about.

“Let us think twice about gathering in dangerous situations, even in the context of people in a glass case. Don’t give the police work, all of us are overworked. You can’t put a policeman on every door or every corner. What is called for now is societal and personal responsibility to manage this current surge.”

Deyalsingh said there have been requests daily for events such as weddings or birthday parties that catered for large numbers, but he does not have authority to grant waivers.

“We have to careful, vigilant and be our brother’s keeper,” he said.

Sunday Newsday reached out to Angostura on the issue and to find out whether their promotion was seen as aiding in large gatherings.

The company said their Rule the Road Caravan was a "safe bubble" where all their members were fully vaccinated, and PCR tests were conducted prior to the event.

Angostura said, “All covid19 regulations were adhered to over the period December 3-4 when the Angostura Rule the Road Caravan participated in islandwide promotional activities in several parts of Trinidad and did not allow gatherings or interactions.”

Angostura said the promotion was executed by public relations agency Lonsdale Saatchi and Saatchi and does not believe that it promoted irresponsible behaviour.

The caravan, it said, was an opportunity to promote responsible behaviour and remind the population of the need to do their part to return to normal, reinforcing the need to stay safe, vaccinate and wear masks.

“We are not the only beverage company that has used this mode to promote its products. We believe firmly that once conducted responsibly within health and safety protocols we are not promoting breaches of any health protocols.

“The two trucks that we use have mounted on them self-enclosed plexiglass structures which encapsulate the occupants. No one can come aboard the trucks and there is no “venue” where the truck stops to encourage gathering,” Angostura said.

It said in the past such events involved bar stops, live performances and inviting people to participate in the trailer activities but this was not the case this year because there must be a balance of lives and livelihoods.

It added that they also worked closely with TTPS to ensure all criteria were met.


"Health Minister urges restraint after rum caravan complaints"

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