Mayor of Georgetown Ubraj Narine says he does not have the authority to institute a curfew or lockdown in the city and as such business will be as per normal even as Guyana battles the spread of the new Coronavirus.
The Mayor was speaking at a press conference at City Hall on Monday but appeared to be confused as to what powers he has to institute or establish the business hours for markets and businesses in the city.
“The city is not a light bulb where you can flick a switch and lock it down, we will not lock down the city, we will work closely with the Ministry of Public Health and other stakeholders,” Mayor Narine asserted.
While the Mayor was adamant that Section 28:01 of Municipal and District Councils Act does not give him the authority to implement a curfew, he did not recognise when reporters pointed out to him that section 31 ‘D’ gives him the power to control and manage businesses subject to a public health emergency.
“There is no way in section 28:01 give us the authority to put a curfew or restrict businesses to operate, that is a national issue and we will be guided by the government on the next move we should take on COVID-19,” the Mayor said.
A reporter from the Stabroek News tried several times to explain to the Mayor the difference between a lockdown and a curfew but he remained steadfast that he will not implement such stringent measures unless he gets guidance from Central Government.
Section 31 ‘D’ of the Act states: “subject to the provisions of the Public Health Ordinance (d) to establish, erect, maintain, let, control and manage markets and market buildings, shops, stalls and stands to control the occupation thereof.
It is this very section being used by the Mayors of New Amsterdam, Linden and Bartica to institute curfew on businesses.
The Georgetown Mayor, on the other hand, is urging restaurants, bars and fast food places to offer more delivery service and limit gathering; for bars and hang out spots, supermarkets, pharmacies and other businesses and institutions the Mayor encouraged that systems be put in place to monitor large gatherings.
“The city is the heart of the country. If I am to lock down the city what will happen to the customs officers and all those people who have to go to work still? We have to put systems in place,” the Mayor said.
However, when asked, the Mayor could not say what systems can be put in place by City Hall should the situation with COVID-19 worsen in the country.
Guyana has eight confirmed cases with one death.
Despite the guidelines established by the Ministry of Public Health about social distancing, Guyanese, especially in the capital city, continue to act in a callous manner and can be observed at bars and hangout spots.
“We the citizens need to take all necessary action to prevent this virus, we can defeat this virus by working together and not blaming each other,” the Mayor said.