A matter for the police: Trinidadians urged to wear masks or face penalties

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley, on Saturday implored nationals to wear masks covering their noses and mouths, as the government announced that it would continue to implement all the measures outlined two weeks ago to curb the significant spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley

Rowley told a news conference that as of Monday, the wearing of the mask would become mandatory, and according to the amendment to the existing Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which would be passed by both houses of parliament on Saturday, they face a fine from as low as TT$1,000 for the first offence to TT$5,000 for a third offence.

“I am just fed up of people just playing the fool when they are talking about lives and livelihoods.”

— Rowley

“From Monday it will be illegal to be out in the public place without a mask,” Rowley said. “Unfortunately, it had to come to that after indicating that some people were reluctant to follow the various measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus that has so far infected 1,577 people and killed 19 since the first case was detected in March this year.

“As of Monday, it will be a matter for the police,” Rowley said, adding “without the law, people were taking the position I don’t have to do that.”

He said the government would continue to be guided by the office of the Chief Medical Officer, telling reporters he had passed on to the police, an invitation he received to attend a party.

“If I come early, it is TT$50, a lot of nice girls, if you come late it is TT$100. I passed that to the police, and I hope the police attended that party and lock up everybody who was there, because I am just fed up of people just playing the fool when they are talking about lives and livelihoods, and those who have to party then we have to police them. Simple as that,” Rowley said.