‘Ill-informed decision to lockdown Georgetown can result in psychological distress of Guyanese, says Mayor

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The Mayor of Georgetown Ubraj Narine remains adamant that he will complete consultations with all stakeholders before deciding whether to implement a curfew or lockdown of the capital city to curb the spread of the deadly new Coronavirus.

A statement from the Mayor, which was posted on his official Facebook page on April 1, noted that he has come in for “tremendous criticism” after his announcement that he does not have the authority to place Georgetown under a curfew.

He believes any “ill-informed” measure by him can result in high levels of anxiety.

“It is my hope that you understand that any uninformed or ill-informed measure taken by me, to place the capital city under a lockdown/curfew can result in high levels of anxiety and psychological distress for the Guyanese people.”

The Mayor said he has “assessed the situation” and is in consultations with the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Communities, the Ministry of Public Security, the Private Sector Commission and the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry before making a decision.

Some businesses are closed on Regent Street, Georgetown

Mayor Narine believes that implementing a curfew or lockdown of Georgetown will result in economic distress for Guyanese.

“With Georgetown being the capital city and the main economic hub for the country, a number of measures need to be implemented before a lockdown/curfew is enforced.

“Such measures can, and will in most instances, disrupt aspects of our way of life. In light of this, it goes without saying that the Council must seek advice and guidance before the capital city is brought under a lockdown/curfew,” the Georgetown Mayor noted.

As a result of the Mayor’s initial announcement that he will not implement such stringent measures, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) on Tuesday called on businesses, including bars and restaurants, to voluntarily close their establishments at 7pm daily in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

As of March 31, Guyana recorded 12 cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

See the Mayor’s April 1 full statement below:

STATEMENT BY THE MAYOR OF GEORGETOWN, PANDIT UBRAJ NARINE

As of Monday, 30 March 2020, I have come under tremendous criticism after I informed the media that I do not have the authority to “lockdown” the city and place it under a curfew. Many have taken to social media to voice their disapproval of this position, as is their right.

I’ve also noticed in some sections of the media and social media, it was said that the “Mayor of Georgetown refuses to lockdown the City”.

I wish to correct this misconception, the fact is I have assessed the situation and I think it is prudent to consult with the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Communities, the Ministry of Public Security, the Private Sector Commission and the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry before making a decision.

With Georgetown being the capital city and the main economic hub for the country, a number of measures need to be implemented before a lockdown/curfew is enforced.

Such measures can, and will in most instances, disrupt aspects of our way of life. In light of this, it goes without saying that the Council must seek advice and guidance before the capital city is brought under a lockdown/curfew.

At this time, we are still consulting the relevant stakeholders to bring this process to an end.

We can all agree that limiting the movement of persons is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is with this in mind that the Council must take the necessary precautions to enforce a lockdown/curfew and to enforce penalties, where measures implemented, are breached.

In this regard, it is my hope that you understand that any uninformed or ill-informed measure taken by me, to place the capital city under a lockdown/curfew can result in high levels of anxiety and psychological distress for the Guyanese people.

We can defeat this virus by working together and adhering to the plethora of Government advisories to fight the spread of this invisible enemy (COVID-19). Blaming each other will only serve to undermine our efforts.

I am working towards the safety of our beloved capital city and in the interest of all its residents and by extension, all Guyanese.

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