Mayor Ubraj Narine defends decision not to ‘lockdown’ city

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Mayor Ubraj Narine

While some municipalities in Guyana have initiated a curfew or lockdown measures to guard against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Mayor of Georgetown Ubraj Narine said he will not be following suit.

Defending his decision not to implement curfews or other lockdown initiatives, he stated that the city cannot be operated as if its light switch is suddenly turned off.

Despite the fact that there has been one confirmed case in Region One (Barina-Waini), six in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and one in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), the Mayor stated that he will work along with stakeholders on the way forward.

“The city is not a lightbulb, where you can flick a switch and lock it down like that. We will not lock down the city, we will work closely with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders including the Private Sector Commission, the Chamber of Commerce, the Commercial Banks and all other organisation,” he asserted during a press conference at City Hall on Monday.

Mayors of New Amsterdam, Linden and Bartica have already instituted a curfew on businesses under Subsection 31 D of the Municipal and District Councils Act which subject to the provisions of the Public Health Ordinance (d) to establish, erect, maintain, let, control and manage markets and market buildings, shops, stalls and stands to control the occupation thereof.

However, Narine was baffled by the powers he has to institute a curfew on businesses and was adamant that the Act does not provide him the authority to implement a curfew.

“There is nowhere [in] in Section 28:01 [that] give us the authority to put a curfew or restrict businesses to operate, that is a national issue and we will be guided by the Government on the next move.”

He further stated that the Council’s revenue collection will be affected tremendously while noting that it has already drastically decreased.

The Mayor made a special call for citizens to follow the guidelines set out by the Public Health Ministry along with the Pan American Health Organisation.

Narine also encouraged restaurants, bars and fast food places to offer more delivery services.

Already, the city has begun sanitising several public places such as Bourda and Stabroek Markets and has established a fixed schedule to sanitise all of its buildings on a regular basis.