SIMULATION: This photo, taken in early February, shows preparations by health authorities to transport an arriving passenger suspected of having the COVID-19.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is advising citizens to refrain from exercising in public as the Government’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order remains in effect over the next weeks.

Deyalsingh repeatedly made the call while speaking at a virtual press conference hosted by his ministry, yesterday morning.

“For the people that insist on exercising, we are saying stay at home,” Deyalsingh said.

Recounting an incident at the Aranguez Savannah, he noticed on his commute to Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning, Deyalsingh said he saw a young man jogging past an older man, who was running in the opposite direction.

“Anyone of those persons could have coughed or sneezed and the droplets. Stay in the air and you would breathe it,” Deyalsingh said.

He suggested that in such a scenario it would be virtually impossible to track the spread of the virus.

“No amount of contact tracing will determine who that person is in front of you,” Deyalsingh said.

Deyalsingh’s advisory on the issue came less than 24 hours after Police Commissioner Gary Griffith suggested that public exercise was still possible under the Public Health Ordinances Regulations.

Speaking to Guardian Media while touring the Chaguanas Market on Saturday, Griffith said: “If one or two persons are jogging or walking together, that is okay.”

Under the latest regulations, announced last week, non-essential industries were ordered to be closed for almost two weeks and citizens were refrained from gathering in public other than to purchase food, medicine, and supplies.

Breach of the regulations carries a maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine and six months in prison.

In the interview, Griffith sought to assure citizens that his officers would not abuse their authority during the period.

“The TTPS is not going to be high-handed. We are going to operate within our authority. If regulations have been enacted, we are going to make sure persons adhere to the regulations,” Griffith said, as he noted that his officers would only utilise their powers of arrest under the regulations when absolutely necessary.