POLICE had to be called to the Bayside Towers gated community in Cocorite on Sunday to break up a poolside birthday party attended by more than 40 young people.
Although in breach of several Covid-19 regulations—including congregating in groups of more than five, being in a public pool for recreational purposes, failing to social distance and failing to wear face coverings in a public space—the partygoers ultimately received only a warning from police and were sent home.
The group earlier received an advance warning from police about their behaviour before officers arrived at Bayside Towers’ poolside along Western Main Road.
It gave the partygoers enough time to disperse, a source at the Towers said yesterday.
By the time police arrived, only a few partygoers were still on the scene.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official associated with the apartments confirmed the incident during a phone interview with the Express yesterday.
‘Partygoers would not comply’
The official told the Express the organisers of the pool party were residents of three apartment units.
“Prior to (the party) we sent out warnings to all residents that once they are in the common areas, they must wear their masks and social distance accordingly.
“We specified where all the common areas were. The pool area is a common area and you must wear your mask. And if you are down there, you must social distance and have not more than five people,” the official said.
“On the day in question, we had over 30 or 40 people down there, not social distancing, not wearing their masks,” the official added.
When the Towers’ management received the complaint about the party, its in-house officers were sent to speak to the partygoers, but they refused to comply, the official said.
“We talked to them on three or four occasions, and they refused to comply. We called in our own security rapid-response people. They refused to comply. They said they were not going to wear their masks or social distance.
“So at the end of the day, when they refused to follow all these Covid instructions, we called the police.
“When we called the police, the police told us to let them know that if they reach and anybody was there still not following the rules, they will be dealt with severely.
“And when we relayed that message, most of the people broke up and the people still there were dealt with by the police,” the official said.
When police arrived, the few people remaining by the poolside were told to leave by police, and were “let off with a warning”, the official said.
In video footage of the poolside party forwarded to the Express by a concerned resident yesterday, several women in bikinis were observed in groups around the pool, dancing and recording themselves.
Other partygoers were seen around and inside the pool, with drinks in hand.
The Express noticed at least two children among the group.
No one was wearing face coverings in the footage.
The incident was also noted in a notice sent to residents of the Towers.
One resident of the Towers told the Express yesterday she was upset that the partygoers only received a “slap on the wrist” for their behaviour.
The resident recalled that in May, a group of people were arrested and charged for breaching Covid-19 regulations after they were found bathing in the waters off Bayside Towers.
“The repercussions should apply across the board,” she said.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on Monday appealed to young people to avoid social gatherings and parties, as this behaviour was “driving the second wave” of the Covid-19 virus.
Trinidad and Tobago, as of last night, had recorded more than 2,000 positive cases and 39 Covid-related deaths since the second wave of the virus started on July 20.
What police said happened
Western Division police officers said yesterday they received a call that people were having an event by the pool of Bayside Towers on Sunday.
They said by the time officers arrived at the scene, they observed three groups of people.
The groups were gathering with fewer than five people, as stipulated under the current Public Health Ordinance, police told the Express.
Police said the groups were warned about their behaviour and Covid-19 breaches, including failing to wear face masks in public.
The officers then left the Towers.
by Alexander Bruzual