Mayor of the City of Georgetown, Pandit Ubraj Narine, called a press conference yesterday where he sought to make it clear that he will not lock down the City.
The Mayor said that he wanted to let it be known, as he has noted calls for the city to be locked down due to the advent of COVID-19 in Guyana. The country has already recorded eight positive cases, with one death.
Ubraj said that he would not venture to lock the city down because the law does not give him the authority to do so, or to stop businesses from operating. It was pointed out that other municipalities are becoming increasingly cautious. For example, New Amsterdam has implemented a curfew of 7:00PM for businesses. The town has announced that the partial lockdown will be strictly implemented by members of the police force once the need arises.
Ubraj refused to comment on the decisions of other municipalities, explaining that he can only speak for the City of Georgetown.
He said that the city is not a light bulb where it can be locked down by the flick of a switch. He expressed concern for the longevity of businesses and the livelihoods of citizens of Georgetown, should such a lockdown occur. He said that the implications should be considered.
One such implication of the slowdown in business is already being realised, as the City is facing a “tremendous” decrease in revenue collection.
“We are working with residents and businesses and even our staff to have a more smooth flow… [of revenue],” Ubraj said.
“I can’t see why people pressing for the city to lock down. You know if the city lockdown the crisis this country would face? That is why I continue to be guided by the government.”
If there is any more action to be taken by the City, the Pandit said that it will be guided by the Ministries of Health, Communities, Security and other relevant authorities,
“[We] will meet and then take the decision to say let us move in this direction. This is not a one man business, this is everybody[‘s] business.”
The City will be working closely with the Ministry of Public Health, the Private Sector Commission, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), banks and other organisations, Ubraj revealed, to ensure the safety of the populace is maintained in the absence of a lockdown.
Ubraj expressed his worry, in this regard, that though this pandemic is a threat to public health, some persons in the city seem to be fairly unconcerned about taking preventative measures, like social distancing.
The Mayor said that he has observed businesses and people operating normally, and he thinks this should not be.
He said that he will not force anyone, but that he hopes people pay attention to the guidelines of the Ministry of Public Health. He urged that the public keep themselves informed on the actions they can take to safeguard themselves.
“We need to take this thing seriously, stay home, stay safe and practice social distancing.”
To businesses, he doesn’t expect all of them to shut down: “Please stay home and practice all precautions against COVID-19. As Mayor, I appeal to all bars, beauty parlors, clubs, fish shops, hangout spots to take precautions. Supermarkets and storeowners should put systems in place to limit gatherings. All Churches, Mosques, and Mandirs must take precautions. Buses, taxi drivers, must sanitize often and equip vehicles with sanitizers for passengers. Vendors are asked to sanitize environs often and limit gatherings. We appeal for social distancing.”
His worship applauded the businesses that have so far gone the extra mile to ensure the safety of their employees and patrons. He hopes that all businesses would take up the mantle.
“We can defeat this virus by working together and not blaming each other.”
The Mayor revealed no plan of action to curb the spread of the pandemic in case the situation worsens to more extreme levels, only saying that he will continue to be guided by the central government authorities.
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