CoP Gary Griffith during yesterday’s police press briefing.

Avoid that Old Year’s night party because it can be a COVID-19 super-spreader – and you will also attract police attention if parties at private homes carry a cover charge or “bring a bottle” arrangement.

As Thursday’s end of the year approaches, Government, the Opposition and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith yesterday all warned citizens to avoid mass gatherings and prevent continuing COVID spread.

There have already been a couple other super-spreaders over the Christmas weekend and concerns have arisen that more will expand the current second COVID wave which T&T’s experiencing.

T&T’s first wave began in March. After the phased reopening of sectors, it was followed by a second wave which expanded following the August 10 general election – causing a return to restrictions.

To date, T&T’s had 7,115 COVID cases with 125 deaths.

Yesterday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said, “The ministry has noted with some dismay that some people aren’t adhering to public health measures – especially with mask-wearing and congregating.

“Please adhere to measures and let’s prevent super-spreaders. Let’s not have a re-acceleration of the second wave which we’re not out of yet. Don’t have New Year’s Eve parties.”

Deyalsingh said the ministry’s aware that two big Old Year’s night parties are planned for Down-the-Islands and others are also planned in Trinidad and in Tobago.

“But these will be super-spreaders – events where you have a large number of people gathered in close proximity. People get happy and forget or abandon public health measures, talking loudly and removing masks to eat and drink.

“New Year’s eve is particularly a hazard, since people hug and kiss when the New Year arrives – all super-spreader potential. So don’t be a super-spreader and have gatherings. If you’re invited to one, please decline for your health’s sake.”

Deyalsingh also expressed concern at Boxing Day sales which occurred at two large malls in South and North West Trinidad – which were crowded.

“We’re asking retail outlets to manage their crowds,” he said.

Meanwhile, CoP Griffith also said police had received information of many planned events from Thursday onwards, including in Tobago.

‘There’s been an exodus there and activities organised, especially at rented villas, where large parties are planned,” Griffith told Guardian Media.

He said he’ll be among TTPS patrols out all over T&T while they have also sought the Coast Guard’s assistance for sea patrols.

“We also received fliers for parties and other events planned in private homes from Thursday, Friday and the weekend, when attendees are being asked for a cover charge or to bring a bottle,” Griffith said.

He added, “Even though there are private family events and gatherings at home, the concept of having mass parties with a cover charge or people ‘bringing a bottle,’ would be considered by me as a breach of the public health regulations and police will act accordingly.”

A private home where a mass event is held – and a cover charge or “bring a bottle” system is in force – will be seen as a public place, he noted.

Griffith said this will give him the right to intervene, “And I will do so. I’m pleading with the public to be responsible. I don’t want to sound like the Grinch this Christmas but please don’t breach the regulations. One night of enjoyment could eventually lead to a lifetime of pain – for many.”

UNC: Avoid mass gatherings

United National Congress MP Dave Tancoo also urged citizens to avoid mass gatherings, noting the emergence of the new COVID-19 strain means citizens must take their own precautions.

In a statement yesterday, he said “We’re hearing rumours about parties set for the end of the year. We must continue to urge citizens to exercise extreme caution going forward. The emergence of new more resilient and deadly strains means that citizens must take their own precautions. We cannot depend on the Government.

“As such, we urge citizens to protect themselves and each other, avoid the mass gatherings, engage in the social distancing and precautions listed on the CDC website. We must do for ourselves what the Government has failed to do.”

He added, “Stuart Young and Terrence Deyalsingh’s inconsistency in policy in dealing with COVID continues to put citizens at risk. From the start, the Government’s words haven’t matched their actions and has had the effect of downplaying the seriousness of this viral threat to our country.”