Breaching curfew charges dismissed against SleepIn owner, staff

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Clifton Bacchus, owner of the popular SleepIn Hotel and Carnival Casino, and two of his staffers were on Friday freed of a charge of breaching the nationwide COVID-19 curfew.

Back in May, Bacchus and his staff members Shintell Marshall and Ian Robinson were arraigned on a charge which stated that on March 12, at SleepIn Hotel at Lot 288 Church Street Georgetown, they breached the curfew imposed between the hours of 22:30h and 04:00h (10:30pm and 04:00am).

They had pleaded not guilty and were each released on $10,000 bail.

When they appeared on Friday before Georgetown Magistrate Annette Singh, after a trial was conducted, the charge against each of them was dismissed. They were represented by Attorney-at-law Latchmie Rahamat.

At their initial court appearance, the lawyer had contended that the charges against Bacchus and the others were bad in law.

In so doing, she had pointed to the COVID-19 Emergency Measures guidelines for March, which had listed hotels, guests houses and interior lodges as businesses providing essential services with permission to operate 24 hours. As such, she had argued that the hotel operator and his staffers did not breach the curfew, and asked that the matters be dismissed.

During an interview with this publication on Friday, Rahamat said Bacchus feels vindicated, and hopes that the relevant authorities would take note of the court’s ruling.

She added that her client also hopes the relevant authorities would understand that they, too, are bound by the guidelines, and if the guidelines list certain businesses as essential services, they must allow those services to operate beyond the curfew hours.

While noting that the public’s health and safety are of utmost importance amid the pandemic, the lawyer

Stressed, “But those who are enforcing the protocols must understand them. There is nothing wrong with the COVID-19 protocols.”

According to counsel, the classifying of hotels as essential services ensured that persons who visit Guyana are safe.

“You have flights arriving at graveyard hours when the curfew is in effect. So, do these people have to wait at the airport for the curfew to expire? Should the hotel not have staff during the graveyard and curfew hours to service those who are staying at the hotel?” the lawyer asked.