Despite the 24-hour curfew the government implemented with the intention of preventing the spread of COVID-19, police are still seeing some people gathering in communities, Police Superintendent Shanta Knowles said yesterday.
As she noted that 132 people have been brought before the courts for curfew violations thus far, Knowles said police officers are still trying to discourage people from gathering or leaving their homes unless “absolutely necessary”.
“Once we see gatherings, we would stop and educate people and ask them to leave and disperse,” she said.
“We want to encourage people and remind people that the government, the health [officials], are advising persons not to congregate, especially in numbers more than 10, and then, of course, we want to encourage social distancing.”
Knowles added, “So, police are at checkpoints, intersections, throughout the island.
“But, we’re also doing patrols – day and night patrols, and those will continue for as long as this emergency order is in place.”
The 24-hour curfew, which came into effect on March 24, was initially announced to end on March 31, this past Tuesday.
But, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Monday extended it until April 8.
Minnis said there are still too many people on the streets.
Officials have confirmed there is community spread of COVID-19 taking place.
Knowles said concerned residents have been contacting police when they notice gatherings in their neighborhoods, and she encouraged people to continue doing so.
“We have people in the community who are calling and giving information, and, of course, once we get the information, we would proceed to those locations and disperse those people,” Knowles said.
She added, “So, yes, as we go through and we get information, we will approach the situation, educate where necessary, and if there is a cause to take action, then we will take action.
“But, for the most part, we are definitely trying to continue to educate the public on the importance of social distancing.
“[A]s we go through, we are reminding persons that we’re still on the 24-hour curfew and only to travel if it’s absolutely necessary.
“That is to go to the food store, the gas station, service station or to the pharmacy, and, of course, those essential workers or those other persons who need or find that there is an emergency to travel, should contact the 311 number, so that we would know that they’re on the street.”
Knowles said people can call the COVID-19 Command Center at 311, 326-6346 or 356-9455 “if there are issues relating to [COVID-19] and the curfew, [so] that we can address those issues in the best way possible”.
“But, we’ve been encouraging persons to please, if it’s not necessary, not to travel, to stay home, so that we can assist and do our part to stop the spread of this virus,” Knowles said.