Photos of dozens of people in an apparent party on No Man’s Land in Tobago has attracted the attention of the police, for possible breaches of the Public Health Regulations regarding COVID-19.
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has however suggested the hands of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) are tied because of where the event occurred.
Responding to questions surrounding images of a large number of people gathered at No Man’s Land in Tobago yesterday, the Police Commissioner confirmed that he saw the images being circulated on social media but he said the images are no different what occurs at other beaches.
The image in question captured a large group of persons as they disembarked from various fishing boats at No Man’s Land. Guardian Media understands that hundreds of people were being shuttled out to the secluded beach—which is only accessible by boat—on Friday and Saturday.
One of the fishermen who’s vessel was used in the exercise said people spent both the days engaged in what appeared to be partying, with music and large coolers. According to the eyewitness the festivities went on all day, uninterrupted by the police or member of the Coast Guard.
“It was a good two days for fishermen. We got jobs to take persons out on our dinghy at a rate of $50 per head one way and we got constant traffic, we were busy whole day. The only Tobagonians at this party were the boatmen who did the transporting.”
The fisherman, who is from Buccoo, said he heard about the opportunity from another fisherman from Crown Point.
“There was at least five hundred persons there, so much that when you look you could not see sand only people. Cars were parked from the Gibson Jetty all the way out the road so it would be hard to miss and whole day no police or Coast Guard in sight.
Guardian Media contacted police in Tobago and a trusted source said police responded to reports of large gatherings in several areas, including Mt Irvine and Buccoo. However, as it relates to No Man’s Land, the officer said police visited the access point to the area (Gibson Jetty) around 6.30 pm and “there was very little activity.”
Communications Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) Lieutenant Sherron Manswell said while he saw the images, he was unable to “verify its location as the TTCG did not receive any reports.”
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith also confirmed he saw the images. However, he noted that No Man’s Land, like Maracas Bay or any other beach, is a public beach.
“It is very difficult for the police to act if persons are on beaches because it’s difficult for the police to pinpoint whether it is the people are in groups of ten where there are thousands of persons on beaches whether its Maracas or No Man’s Land.”
He said what the police can take action on, is the fact that in the picture, people were not wearing masks which he said was a ‘ticketable’ offence.
“Based on what I saw there, a lot of these persons were not wearing masks and that is a matter of concern. We would have patrols at that location and if at any time – same as we have at Maracas or any other beach – if persons are not wearing masks then tickets would be issued.”
The Commissioner went on to say that he has directed units to be highly visible and in attendance in the area and anyone not wearing a mask will be issued a ticket and ordered to disperse if found to be breaching regulations.
The assistance of the Coast Guard has also been enlisted, Commissioner Griffith said, as No Man’s Land is an area that cannot be easily policed.
The party comes after concerns raised by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley about the number of people heading to Tobago, saying it was not a free pass to abandon the safeguards put in place regarding COVID-19.
President Paula-Mae Weekes, in her Christmas Day message, had also recently criticised those seeking to through and attend parties.
“And so, into the darkness that is the selfish, uncaring and, I dare say, downright doltish behaviour of those ‘zessers’ and ‘wessers’ who cannot do without a fete, a beach lime or patronising a bar and who are willing to put others’ lives in jeopardy, a light shines brightly,” she said.