AS Trinbagonians are expected to rush today to satisfy their deep craving and love for their favourite fast foods, including doubles and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), the top cop has cautioned that the police will be out today and will shut down operations if there are crowds. It has been over month since the Government took the decision to shut down all food operators on April 6.
In a telephone interview with the Express, Griffith said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has been briefed on the rush for food expected today.
He advised that the doubles vendors and other street vendors and food establishments can take chalk or stickers and put down markers to ensure that customers keep their distance of at least six feet apart.
“We anticipate situations that may take place so we have pre-emptive strikes,” he said as he explained that all vendors have been advised through the TTPS communication that proper distancing protocols must be implemented today.
“You can’t be a doubles vendor and have persons packed like channa in a doubles and you cannot say it is not your responsibly, each and every person have to pull their weight,” he said.
He said crowds converging around a vendor or establishment become a catalyst for spreading the deadly Covid-19 virus.
“There is need for a system and structure and once that is in place people would adhere to it,” he said.
He reminded supermarkets and banks adopted having markers and a proper system after he threatened to shut down their operations.
“We anticipate there is going to be a rush and because of that demand persons may lose focus on what they are supposed to do, they may not want to stand up in line, they may want to converge in circles around certain places,” he said as he reiterated the call for food businesses to be responsible.
“We could see a disaster just waiting to happen in Ariapita Avenue, for example, with some of these places that are back to back,” he said.
He suggested the street vendors on the avenue communicate with one another to space themselves out on the avenue so there would not be a convergence of people.
He noted there are a number of doubles vendors in one area in Oropouche and proper systems need to be put in place to ensure there is no overlapping of customers.
Griffith said liming while going to get food will not be tolerated.
“We also anticipate situations looking at Ariapita Avenue, St James, Chaguanas and certain areas where there are food stalls persons may see this as an avenue to converge en masse and it becomes a situation for socialising,” he said.
“We are not going to tolerate persons who feel they can now park on Ariapita Avenue whilst persons are buying doubles or corn soup or whatever, pull up their trunks and start to socialise and drink. That also is not going to be accepted. If it is I have to use certain laws— such as the loitering and other new regulations, we will do so. So this should not be seen by any citizen that this is an avenue to socialise,” he said.
Griffith said people need to purchase their items and move on.
In a statement earlier, Griffith advised that representatives of these food vendors should also be posted to assist in ensuring that the mandatory social distancing is adhered to.
“Failure to do this would eventually cause mass congestion by those customers waiting to be served, hence breaching the Public Health Ordinance Regulations, and also putting the health of customers at risk,” stated Griffith.
He stated that if this transpires, in the same manner when banks and supermarkets were mandated to do same, failure of which would have triggered those establishments being temporarily closed, as provided by Section 133 of the Public Health Ordinance, “the CoP has directed all officers on or off duty, to have such food establishments also temporarily shut down, if customers converge en masse around food facilities, waiting to collect their delivery”.
On Saturday Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that, effective today, takeaway service by restaurants and street food vending will resume operations.
Asked what he personally would be rushing to sink his teeth in today whether it will be a hot doubles, the Commissioner replied, “I have never eaten a doubles in my life, but I am willing to try.”