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Police cracking down on illegal gatherings and parties

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Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020. 8:06 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes:  The second most stressful time of year for the Police Department, the September Celebrations, is now past. And while there were no reported murders or even major crimes this weekend, the Department’s headaches with enforcing the COVID-19 quarantine regulations continue – particularly that relating to illegal gatherings and parties.

“I want to make it emphatically clear…that the Police will be cracking down on those persons who have the propensity of hosting private parties at their homes, inviting persons from outside of their household. And once you are caught, you will be arrested, and you might even end up in quarantine at Baldy Beacon, so try to stay away from that,” Commissioner of Police Chester Williams told reporters in a news briefing in Belmopan.

There were several reports over the weekend concerning violations of Statutory Instrument No. 126 of 2020, which in Regulation 10(a), provides: “For the purposes of preventing, controlling, containing and suppressing the spread of the infectious disease COVID-19, no person shall host nor attend– (a) a private party which includes any person from outside of the immediate household of the house occupant…”

Elsewhere in the regulation, any social event apart from those delimited is proscribed. As Commissioner Williams put it, “If you want to have a party at home you can have a party at home; but if it’s you one at home, you one will party. You can’t invite…your neighbor, or… your cousin. The minute you do that, you break the law. Some people are of the view that you can have the party and invite up to ten people – that is not so.”

Yet every day, Williams said, police have to be called to gatherings with ten people or more. And up to now, officers have been content to warn and send people home.

But the Commissioner has now directed that the law must be enforced: “We are not ambulance – we don’t warn, warn, warn, warn, [and] warn. We need to arrest some people so that they get the message that we are serious. If we continue to be like ambulance, nobody is going to take us seriously; nobody is going to take these regulations seriously; everybody will continue to behave recklessly, and they are going to put us all at risk again.”

As Williams said to someone on Monday, Belize does not have as many positive cases as a few weeks ago because more people are complying with the regulations; but if that stops, the trend could turn the wrong way again.

Visiting family is not strictly prohibited, but Williams says to try to avoid extended socializing, especially involving the use of alcohol.

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