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Mass gatherings for funerals becoming a recurring problem for police

Posted: Monday, January 31, 2022. 8:53 pm CST.

Photo Credit: Live Events and Designs

By BBN Staff: In light of a number of recent funerals where people gathered en masse and several COVID-19 prevention protocols were violated, the Belize Police Department says it needs to assess what can be done to ensure compliance without infringing upon people’s right to mourn.

Head of Communications for the Office of the Commissioner of Police, Assistant Superintendent Fitzroy Yearwood, spoke today on two recent examples of funerals where crowds were large, social distancing, and proper mask-wearing was not observed, and there were instances of public drinking and marijuana use in public.

One such funeral took on the form of a carnival road march, a gathering still prohibited under the current COVID-19 protocols, despite restrictions on the number of mourners at a funeral being lifted.

Yearwood said that the Department is responsible for enforcement of COVID-19 protocols, but that officers on the ground have to make decisions on enforcement with a view to keep the peace.

“For us to go into a situation like that, let’s say at a funeral, where there are hundreds of people and you only have a deployment of so much police, that situation could turn volatile, and then it could turn worse,” Yearwood said.

Yearwood said that the department will be reviewing what can be done about the situation and notes that since so many people are recording the events and posting those videos to social media, the department will have evidence if a decision is taken to charge anyone for violations at funerals. He also said that, while there are laws in place to protect the public from COVID-19, it is ultimately the role of each citizen to protect themselves and their families.

“You the general public owe it to your families and yourselves to stay safe and healthy. And when you go out there and involve yourself in these irresponsible kinds of behavior and these clusters that you put yourself in, we at the police department can only do so much,” Yearwood added.


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