$92,000 fine for big social event

Hundreds of attendees partied without masks 

Police on Sunday night shut down an event attended by hundreds of people at Bahama Barrels — a property owned by Graycliff and leased to entertainer Julien “Believe” Thompson — and issued a citation to the event’s organizer for $92,000 for violation of the COVID-19 emergency order, Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said.

The order prohibits social gatherings on New Providence with organizers subjected to a $2,000 fine and $300 for each person in attendance.

Rolle said 300 people attended the event. 

Thompson denied yesterday that he had anything to do with the large gathering, videos of which were widely shared on social media.

“It was not my event,” he said.

A representative for Graycliff said the restaurant had nothing to do with the event and asked The Nassau 

Guardian to direct all inquiries to Thompson, but the entertainer declined to make any statement beyond denying involvement in the event.

The commissioner said he expects the matter to end up in court so he wished not to say the name of the organizer who was cited.

Rolle yesterday warned the public to abide by the law.

“I want to say to people to desist,” he said.

“We are going to enforce the law and the penalties for these social gatherings are hefty. They have to take that into account when they decide that they want to invite people over to have social gatherings. When we find them, we are going to cite them. They are going to feel it.”

 Rolle said police also shut down an event on Sunday at an establishment on Athol Island. Videos of that event depicted a floating bar surrounded by boats and showed police leaving their vessel to stop the gathering.

Videos from the Bahama Barrels event on West Hill Street sparked outrage and disbelief in some circles for its blatant violation of COVID-19 protocols.

The big event came as the country, mainly New Providence, battles a COVID-19 surge with nearly 200 cases reported by health authorities on the weekend alone.

In the circulated video clips, revelers are seen gathered close together without masks as music blared from speakers. Many in attendance shouted “we partying all night”, as they jubilantly crammed the space. 

While he did not announce any new measures to fight the third wave of the pandemic, which is creating mounting worries, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis last week told Parliament that enforcement of COVID-19 measures must be adhered to to beat back the coronavirus.

Asked yesterday whether police are upping enforcement, the police commissioner said, “We continue doing what we have been doing and we up mainly on the weekends when we know that people like to [have] these gatherings.”

Rolle said he believes many people are getting the message that they must adhere to the emergency order, but he said, “Some of them just don’t care and they don’t believe they are going to be caught, but what I also want to say to members of the public is we have a hotline and if you see something, say something. People like to criticize the police and say ‘look at this; y’all ain’t doing noting’, but you didn’t tell us.”

Rolle said police shut down establishments nightly.

“There are people operating bars, operating clubs illegally and when we find them we cite them, every night,” he said. 

Chief Superintendent Zhivago Dames, the officer in charge of the COVID Enforcement Unit, said while police have been seeing many social gatherings, events as large as the one shut down on Sunday night are not common.

“It’s always concerning when you see things like that happening,” Dames said.

“Definitely persons are not adhering to the protocols as they should and then you see events as such. And so we just want to take this opportunity to remind our citizenry to do their endeavour best to follow the protocols, because it is the only way that we can get back to some degree of normalcy.”

 The COVID-19 hotline number is 311. Individuals wishing to report violations of the emergency order may also call 702-9965, 911 or 919.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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