As Belize enters into its first day under a State of Emergency, information coming out of the Government has been unclear and in some instances contradictory. This has left citizens unsure of how they could move and Love FM receiving hundreds of calls throughout the day asking for clarity. As we understand it, there were some adjustments made to the regulations last night. Perhaps it is a case of miscommunication or the lack of a flow of information within the Government but either way, the Attorney General was on Facebook today indicating that even if you are an essential worker, your liberties would still be restricted during the curfew hours.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “Section 4 (3) . We’ve taken out section 4 (3) that says “Sub regulations 1 and 2 shall not apply to essential workers providing essential services.” So we’re not giving any option for an essential service person to work during the curfew hours. Not because you are an essential worker means that you can just go willy nilly eight at night to five in the morning because even though you may be essential what you need to do can easily be done between five in the morning and eight at night which is the earliest that the curfew ends and right up to when it begins again. I want to go through the document but I want to answer as well, I’m getting a lot of calls about passes. Nobody has been able to convince me that whatever they say they need to do at one in the morning they can’t do between 5:00 a.m and 8:00 p.m. What is it that is so urgent that you cannot wait for 5 o’clock in the morning ? Of course I’m excepting if there’s a medical emergency and in that case the time it will take for you to get a pass you will die- the proper thing is to call the police and the police will come and take you to the hospital and you can go to the hospital and say “Look I’m shot.” or “I’ve been stabbed.” or “I’ve been hurt.” in that case then clearly there’s a medical emergency but a pass to do what ? You have a business and you say “Well sometimes my people need to come out at two in the morning.” Why? “Well they work shifts.” well just like everybody else the business community needs to understand that they need to make certain sacrifices, adjust your shifts to match the curfew period. If your people have a security system and your security guards work shifts then adjust the shift so that one of the shifts is from 8:00 p.m to 5:00 a.m the next day so that your people can be on your compound watching your place and don’t violate the curfew. In the rarest of instances will a pass be necessary for you to be about during the curfew period.”
The contradiction in what the Attorney General noted on Facebook earlier today came in the Police Commissioner’s address also on Facebook. According to the Attorney General essential workers and their employers must make adjustments to their shifts so that they are not on the streets once the curfew sets in. Police Commissioner, however, says essential workers will be allowed during the curfew if they are performing works under essential services. Here is a snippet of an address that Commissioner Chester Williams presented to his police officers.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Even though one might be an essential worker it does not give that person full authority to be out on the streets, such persons can only be out on the street during the curfew period of he is performing some duties in the line of his employment. Secondly, persons who may need to go to the hospital due to an emergency situation will be permitted to be on the streets. Now while we propose that these persons will be given a pass to be able to be out on the street after the curfew period it is expected that as police officers we must exercise our discretion with a view to ensure that we facilitate those persons who need to be about during the curfew period. Now exercising our discretion does not mean that we must allow anybody per se to be out. They must have proof that they are out there for the reason for which they are claiming to be out. “
We keep on appealing to the Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte to make an appearance on Love FM and Love Television in order to get some clarity but he has yet to respond to any of our messages or phone calls.