by Sharlene Rampersad
As Day One of the stay-at-home measures on non-essential services begins, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says if you choose to leave your home to go to the supermarket, to purchase a newspaper or to exercise, the police have no authority to arrest you.
You can be arrested if you congregate in a group of more than ten people or open a non-essential service for business.
Over the past two days, there has been some confusion over whether the lockdown means people cannot leave their homes at all.
On Friday National Security Minister Stuart Young said that anyone who is outside from Monday will be required to inform the police why they have left their homes if they are pulled over.
In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Griffith said although new Public Health regulations have been implemented, police officers have not been granted any additional powers or authority.
“The TTPS has not been given any extra powers or extra authority. I have to ensure that the TTPS works within the law-nothing more or nothing less there is no extra authority that has been given that allows the police service to do anything other than what we can. New regulations have been set in the public health ordinance where it can state if you breach these regulations, you can be arrested,” Griffith said.
On Saturday, Griffith told Guardian Media that members of the public can exercise in public while the stay-at-home order remains in effect once they do not exercise in groups.
Later in the day, National Security Minister Stuart Young issued a press release titled, “Stay at home means no exercise outdoors in public spaces.”
The release stated that the public should limit being outside of their homes unless they are part of the essential staff of essential businesses or are going to conduct an essential activity.
“The Minister of National Security advises that as announced on Friday 27 March 2020, the Government is requesting that persons do not engage in exercise outside of their homes in public spaces. The medical experts have advised that persons exercising outside of their homes in public spaces carry and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19,” the release said.
Yesterday, Griffith sought to clarify what the ministry’s release meant, saying, “You would have seen a media release recently by the Ministry of National Security asking persons not to exercise- asking and telling persons that they should not is different from telling persons that they cannot – cannot is when the police get involved and we can then enforce the law.”
He said the requests are an appeal for good sense to prevail among the public and reiterated his call for the public to adhere to the requests of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and other officials.
“The more persons stay indoors, the better and faster this situation can be rectified, every time one person is affected, it provides a domino effect that will make this situation last much longer than it should, which is why the Prime Minister continues to plead with persons to adhere to the requirements from midnight tonight to stay indoors as much as possible unless of course, you provide an essential task or you involved in essential business,” Griffith said.