Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has heard Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s call for increased policing of bars after it was discovered some of the cases of the latest wave of COVID-19 infections were contracted in such establishments. However, Griffith says he will not stop there as his sights are also now trained on political motorcades which have morphed into “mobile bars.”
In a brief telephone interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Griffith said the police’s duty is to uphold the laws of the country and the mandate for regulating the operations of bars is set out in the public health regulations.
However, with the August 10 General Election just four days away, Griffith said political motorcades have also been a problem.
He said reports reaching him indicate that motorcades have been featuring scores of people congregating outside of vehicles consuming alcohol and engaging in the same behaviour that bars are known for. If this behaviour continues over the next few days, he said the motorcades will also be “shut down.”
Speaking during a press conference yesterday, Rowley said the police will be asked, through Minister of National Security Stuart Young, to increase their scrutiny of bars – ensuring stricter adherence to the guidelines.
He said this was is in light of information from the Ministry of Health’s contact tracing exercise which revealed some of the latest cases of COVID-19 were transmitted at bars.
This was confirmed by Director of the Health at the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology Division, Dr Avery Hinds, during yesterday’s COVID-19 press conference.
“What we have noted is that the transmissions that we saw between cases and primary and secondary contacts were in particular settings,” Hinds said as he gave an update on the ministry’s contact tracing exercise on 22 people who had contracted the virus in the past 15 days.
“Within the household setting, we saw that there was a higher risk of transmission and a fair amount of super spreading events…were noted among persons who had contact with that bar setting. At least two or three bars so far have been implicated in the spread from one group to an apparently unrelated group of persons.”
Hinds noted that this transmission to apparent “unrelated” groups of people was clarified when historic data was taken from them.
“So we’re seeing, in particular where bars contribute to that. The school setting where students were close together where there is an actual case within a classroom setting- we did see where that happened,” Hinds said. —Rishard Khan