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Will the PUP victory parties and election motorcades prove to be super-spreaders of COVID-19?

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Posted: Sunday, November 15, 2020. 7:49 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: One can hardly begrudge the unbridled joy of People’s United Party (PUP) supporters that have seen their party return to government after 12 years in the cold.

That they did it so handsomely, outperforming perhaps even their own expectations, borders on the unbelievable. And so it was celebration time, COVID-19 be damned.

We have seen that in the north and in the west at least, there was blatant disregard for the COVID-19 protocols of less than 10 people in one place at a time (indeed no kind of social distancing at all); lots of people in the motorcades celebrating were not wearing masks; there was lots of drinking and no social distancing (if the alcohol was sold before midnight that is a violation of election law), and large vehicles and trailers often had more than 10 people riding in the back.

The Police seem – indeed are, according to Commissioner Chester Williams – unable to do much in terms of the motorcades gathered even on Election Night in violation of the curfew then in place.

While the new Prime Minister, and some newly elected area representatives, advised individuals to exercise caution as we are still affected by COVID-19, lots of people disregarded it.

For example, newly elected Alex Balona of Cayo Central, who ousted long-time Works Minister, Rene Montero, in one of the night’s biggest upsets, wrote supporters on Saturday announcing that in light of the reports of a century-plus of positive COVID-19 cases and ballooning deaths, a victory motorcade scheduled for today, Sunday, is canceled.

Among other things, he said: “We apologize for any inconvenience this cancellation brings but as deserving as this celebration is, we cannot do so under the circumstances. As your new area representative, I must lead the constituency in a responsible manner through these challenging times. Do have a safe and restful weekend. Please wear your masks, sanitize regularly and practice physical distancing. God Bless Belize!”

But we are told there was still a motorcade in San Ignacio Town with several victorious PUP divisions participating.

And so we are left to ask: for a few moments of freedom, can we judge the risk of harm to our friends and loved ones? Is it worth it?

Going into Garifuna Settlement week, authorities will have to clamp down ever harder on these violations that put us all at risk, and make the task of containing and eventually eradicating COVID-19 without a national shutdown even more difficult.

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