Drummer boy

PNM candidate for St Joseph Terrence Deyalsingh is surrounded by supporters while he demonstrates his tassa playing ability on Friday July 17, as he arrives at Market Street, to file his nomination papers at the St Joseph Community Centre.

SUPPORTERS should be separated into groups of 25 as they campaign with candidates in the lead up to the 2020 general election.

Speaking during Saturday morning’s virtual press conference, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh called for political parties, candidates and campaign managers to ensure public health measures in light of Covid-19 are followed. He advised, “If you have more than 25 persons in your entourage, as your followers, separate them into groups, make sure they have on masks, make sure they are physically distanced as far as humanely possible because we don’t want community spread.”

He admitted that there was a breakdown during nomination day on Friday. Deyalsingh said he wanted to address the issue “frontally and not run from it”. He said it mainly happened in Trinidad, rather than in Tobago. “We know nomination day is a day of high emotion, there’s mixing of the two major groups, showing their love and respect for each other on nomination day but in some areas, it was a bit concerning. Let’s hope that that is an aberration, I would like to think so.”

Deyalsingh said that political parties and campaign managers should ensure that it does not recur. He said, “It is incumbent upon candidates, the campaign managers and so on, to ensure that if you have more than 25 persons campaigning with you, that they do the common sense things, that is, distribute masks, provide masks for your supporters, keep them in groups of 25, separate each group but within each group there should be a certain degree of physical distancing … also each campaign should have an adequate supply of hand sanitizers so persons can sanitize their hands and also water because sometimes you may want to just rinse off your hand, wash your hand and these very common sense measures can go a very long way to make sure we have a safe campaigning period.”

Deyalsingh who is the PNM candidate for St Joseph spoke of the system adopted when he went to file his nomination papers. “We assigned a marshal for each group of 25 there were only three groups. We insisted people wear masks. All I can say is that you can’t have a hundred groups of 25, that will eventually morph into a melee but it is incumbent upon all of us to manage this situation … A lot of common sense has to be applied ... Have a crowd that your campaign can manage effectively so that we don’t encourage or have community spread.”

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