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Residents of Dow Village, California, listen to speakers during the town meeting at the Esperanza Presbyterian School on Wednesday.

Residents of Dow Village, California, are calling on the police to crack down on activities at bars in their community, as they say if left unchecked it could lead to another spike in COVID-19 cases.

Villagers complained about bar owners and patrons flouting the COVID-19 protocols at a town meeting with members of the T&T Police Service and Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh at the Esperanza Presbyterian School on Wednesday night.

Only this week, Ministry of Health officials noted a spike in COVID-19 cases in the county of Caroni. They identified the flouting of health protocols at bars as one of the reasons for the spike, noting bar hopping was one of the activities which had contributed to a number of recent cases.

During the meeting on Wednesday, one villager, who did not give his name, said bars along the Southern Main Road, California, are openly flouting the COVID regulations and they are concerned about the spread of the disease.

“When I come out in the night at Dow Village Junction there is a bar opposite. There seems to be a party there every night. Up to last night, I pass there and it was like a party again. No COVID restrictions being imposed and mind you, there are patrols taking place every night,” he said.

He also complained about the traffic caused by patrons who park near the bars.

“(There is) traffic on both sides of the road and it is very dangerous to come out from the side road onto the main road. There are people… they are not in the bar, the bar operates a food outlet also, so they purchase their food and drink and their cars and car trunk and park and blocking the road. Twice I get involved in accident.”

Another villager said he has also been complaining about traffic in the area but the police were not dealing with any of the issues raised.

Other villagers agreed bars contribute to bad parking along the Southern Main Road which has resulted in traffic and numerous accidents.

Supt Michael Pierre promised that the police would deal with operators causing the problems. Pierre further advised residents to petition the courts to deny operators a license when the time came up for renewal. Councillor in the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation Ramchand Rajbal-Maraj urged residents not to use social media to make their private business and whereabouts public knowledge. He said he has seen too many instances where people have advertised their daily routines on Facebook, making criminals aware when they would not be home. Rajbal-Maraj said there have been too many reports of home invasions and robberies in Central.

Supt Pierre said members of the public should be mindful that criminals and criminal gangs operate at all levels and seize every opportunity to commit a crime.

Indarsingh meanwhile called on the Child Protection Unit of the TTPS to work closely with NGOs, religious organisations and other agencies to ensure young people are not the target of molesters. Indarsingh said children are even more vulnerable now that they are home and are sometimes unsupervised by their parents or a trusted relative.