The “Stay at Home” requirement is not now a legally enforceable one. It is an exhortation by the Government. The MSJ supports this exhortation as it is absolutely necessary for the minimising of the spread of the virus. As has been repeatedly stated by the Prime Minister, “Stay at Home” is an appeal to the good sense of citizens to do the right thing. However, it is not a legal requirement. The TTPS therefore cannot stop anyone from being in their car or force anyone to turn around and go back home.
The roadblocks are therefore having a greater negative effect. The roadblocks are causing those essential workers who are on their way to work or who are actually doing their jobs to lose valuable time in massive traffic jams. This is counter-productive at a time when we need maximum productivity by the essential workers given that many of the businesses that they are in have limited work hours. It may also not be the best use of police resources.
The TTPS needs to be more creative in ensuring that people do not violate the legal regulations. It is notable that the Police did not charge one prominent cloth store owner in downtown Port of Spain for violating the law when that store was open last week. In addition to ensuring that criminal activities are being tackled by the TTPS, it may be useful for the logistical resources of the T&T Defence Force to be used for distributing food to families that are in great need at this time. Hampers organised by NGOs, the purchase of food produced by farmers and purchased by the state, and meals prepared through the traditional school feeding programme – are but some of the food needs of persons without an income that could be distributed by the TTDF.
The MSJ calls on the people of Trinidad and Tobago who are not essential workers to “stay at home” and as you go out to do what is necessary and legally allowed – purchasing food or medicines – please do so responsibly and observe physical distancing, wear a mask and sanitise and/or wash your hands. Voluntary compliance is far better than an enforced stay at home by way of a state of emergency.
Movement for Social Justice