Police allowed APNU/AFC to host public meetings in breach of COVID-19 guidelines

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Persons at an APNU/AFC Meeting at Tucville, Georgetown on July 26 [Ubraj Narine Photo]
At least one senior member of the Guyana Force Force (GPF) has confirmed that permission was given to the APNU/AFC Coalition to host public meetings across the country in breach of the COVID-19 guidelines.

Section 2 of the COVID-19 Emergency Measures that “No person shall host, attend or visit – (j) a meeting of a fraternal society, private or social club or civic association or organization”.

The measures also outlined that “where gatherings are allowed it shall not exceed ten persons.”

But the meetings of the APNU/AFC exceeded more than ten persons, and in some instances, persons were observed not wearing their face masks – yet another breach of the guidelines.

Commander of Region Three, Simon McBean, explained that the coalition had written him seeking permission to host the events.

The Commander said permission was granted under conditions that persons attending the meeting would practice social distancing. He added too that police ranks were deployed to ensure that such happened.

“We received an application from the coalition Government to hold public meetings at 10 different locations across the region on Sunday. Along with their application, they were granted permission to use Government schools from the COVID-19 Task Force. Police were deployed at all the locations to ensure that they follow the guidelines that was set out by the Region Three COVID-19 Task Force,” Commander McBean said.

Caretaker Minister of Natural Resources (standing), caretaker Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan (second from right), and Mayor Ubraj Narine (right) during an APNU/AFC meeting in Tucville, Georgetown [Ubraj Narine photo]
On the other hand, Commander of Region Two, Crystal Robinson told said permission was not granted for meetings in the Essequibo county and such, the gatherings were dismantled and supporters were forced to leave after assembling.

“Nobody didn’t give permission to keep meeting. We tell them to leave,” she said.

INews understands that the meetings in Region Six were held at twelve locations and law enforcement officials were oblivious to this happening.

Efforts to contact the other regional commanders to find out whether permission was granted for the APNU/AFC to host public meetings in their districts proved futile.

The move to host public meetings in clear breach of the COVID-19 guidelines was heavily criticised by members of the public and civil society.

Most recently, former presidential adviser Gail Teixeira condemned the incumbent coalition administration’s handling of the pandemic – which has already claimed the lives of 20 persons in Guyana.

“While the people of this country are suffering, while health workers across this country are asked to function in very risky conditions with very limited protection equipment, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and health facilities are stretched with limited staff, the APNU+AFC focus is on misleading and mobilising supporters to challenge the inevitable declaration. This illustrates their utter disdain for our people,” Teixeira asserted in a letter to the editor.

Almost on a daily basis, health officials, particularly the Chief Medical Officer and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, have been pleading with Guyanese to abide by the COVID-19 guidelines – which were instituted by the caretaker government.

Caretaker President David Granger addressing a large crowd of supporters– a gathering which is considered to be in breach of the COVID-19 guidelines.

But from all indications, members of the caretaker government have not been abiding by the guidelines.

In fact, even caretaker president David Granger has condoned large public gatherings.

Earlier this month, he addressed a large gathering of APNU/AFC supporters who had assembled outside of State House – a gathering which was in clear breach of the COVID-19 guidelines.