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‘The new normal’ to be determined ‘day-to-day’: Attorney General

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Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2020. 3:24 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister Dean Barrow has called a virtual press conference for tomorrow, Thursday, following meetings with Cabinet on Tuesday afternoon and the National COVID-19 Oversight Committee today, Wednesday.

It is expected that the new regulations governing conduct during the now-extended State of Emergency will be unveiled at that time.

But what will they look like? Attorney General and Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte told us on Tuesday that the assessment is literally from day to day and sometimes hour to hour, and that no one really knows how the next two months will go.

“I can tell you that there are a couple more things that will open up, but I don’t want to pre-empt the task-force on what we’re doing. But, I think that’s the direction where we’re heading. I’d indicated last week that if the trend was to continue [with] no [new] case(s), and we’re doing fairly well, then we can allow ourselves to open up more businesses, while at the same time, though, maintaining social distancing protocols and the like.”

As to how the emergency has been handled so far and how it will look going forward, Peyrefitte stated, “It’s a day by day analysis, sometimes hour by hour analysis of where we are. That determines how we go forward. So, anybody who tells you that we know where we will be next week, they don’t know what they’re talking about because we don’t know. And the regulations could change as we go along. They could get more strict. They could become less strict, depending on where we are. And where we are, nobody can predict from day-to-day.”

We also asked whether this was teaching Belizeans the importance of responsibility. Peyrefitte responded that to their credit, “the majority of Belizeans know what responsibility is and I hope that we continue to demonstrate that responsibility. There are some of us who will not demonstrate it, and so, unfortunately, they have to be detained and charged for the offences committed, but we are serious about this thing. What people don’t understand is that the more restrictive we act now, the better the chances that we are freed up in the near future. The more loose and careless we are, the less likely we’ll come out of this thing any time soon.”

And as for the famous ‘lockdown passes’ which Peyrefitte committed to not issue in the first week of the state of emergency, he told us he still hasn’t found a reason to issue any: “Just like the analysis of COVID-19, I am approached every hour, on the hour, about those passes; but like I said, we in the Ministry of National Security have yet to come up with anything a person has to do, that they cannot do between 5 a.m. [in the morning] and 8 p.m. at night.”

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