Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith yesterday hailed the 19-hour curfew—which began at 10 am Monday and ended this morning at 5 am - as a success.
As promised by the Police Commissioner, his charges were out in full force for the Indian Arrival Day holiday yesterday as the curfew took effect.
Before restrictions kicked in, however, there were long lines at some gas stations as frantic motorists waited to have their gas tanks filled.
And after 10 am the already quiet streets of Port-of-Spain were transformed into a ghost town as there were even fewer homeless people milling about.
However, accessing transportation before the curfew took effect was difficult for those either on their way to work or home.
A nurse assigned to the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital who was at the Croisee, San Juan around 9.30 am told Guardian Media that there were no taxis at the Port-of-Spain stand.
She eventually got a lift from a Guardian photographer to Port-of-Spain and then got another drop from police who were on patrol to her workplace.
Several people were also seen scrambling into maxi taxis just before 10 am yesterday.
But others were not that lucky.
They were rendered stranded at empty taxi stands.
Griffith said the police recognised there will be some essential workers going to or returning from shift duty without curfew permits.
“In those circumstances, the employee simply needs to produce the company identification card and explain to the officer where he or she is going to or coming from,” he said.
Such workers include (though are not necessarily limited to) the media, private security officers, healthcare workers, sea and airport workers, and energy sector workers.
However, some members of Guardian Media Ltd who were on their way to work during the curfew yesterday were stopped by police officers who demanded they produce a curfew pass, despite the Commissioner making it clear that they can simply produce a company identification card or company letter.
When contacted Griffith said such hiccups will be swiftly addressed.
He also said the TTPS fully-manned police operations command centre to deal with curfew related matters received a total of 5,000 calls from people requiring information about being outside during the curfew period.
People transporting essential workers were among those in the top categories who called the police curfew hotline.
In giving a breakdown of the statistics, Police Commissioner Griffith said,” The TTPS operation command centre hotline calls received in last 18 hours, over 275 calls an hour. Almost five calls a minute for 18 hours.”
He said police received around 1,300 calls from people transporting essential people and 1,250 from essential workers between 9 pm on May 30 to 3 pm on May 31, 2021.
He said between that period “an average of 5,000 calls were received.”
There were around 850 calls from health care workers both from public and private institutions, 300 from security firms and from security officers, 200 calls received from medical emergencies, 150 from farmers, 100 calls from people having to travel abroad, and 50 from hotel workers.
‘maturity’ of citizens
Commissioner Griffith also said yesterday’s operation went smoothly, except for a few reports received by the centre that people going to and from their essential jobs, were turned back by certain police officers erroneously.
Griffith advised essential workers that if they do encounter this problem, to call the centre and the police officers on the ground will be duly informed.
However, he said overall the curfew to curb the spread of COVID-19 in this country, was a success.
“The virtual ghost town seen throughout the country during the daytime period of the curfew today (yesterday), along with the very few instances of persons being confronted for breaking this law, with very few complaints, showed the success of the curfew, as the objective is not to arrest anyone but to ensure that all citizens are briefed in understanding what should and should not be done.”
He added, “I wish to thank all TTPS officers for continuing to perform above and beyond the call of duty during this period, as well as the citizens of this country, for showing the maturity and understanding needed to adhere to what is required.”
Arrests still made
But despite continued warnings from the police there were those still bent on breaking the law.
Police said 26 people were arrested at a residence in Real Spring, Valsayn Sunday for breach of the Public Health regulations.
The group, which included six Venezuelans, were allegedly partying when they were held.
A 38-year-old man at the gathering was also arrested for possession of 0.4 grammes of cocaine.
The group of men and women ranging in age from 20 to 40 are expected to be formally charged today.
There were also two viral videos of young men from the Port-of-Spain area playing football along the Beetham Highway and the Priority Bus Route, clearly in breach of the curfew and health regulations, since they were not wearing masks.
Anyone needing information during the next extended curfew on Thursday can call the hotline numbers - 480-2000, 612-3876, 684-5730, 684-5076, 684-5035, and 684-5233.