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May 7, 2020

61 Persons including Officers Arrested for S.O.E. Violations

A police officer finds himself among a group of sixty other individuals who are the latest group charged in the police crackdown of violators of the state of emergency. The borders remain closed and one person was picked up for illegal entry which presents a problem to health authorities to prevent the spread of the corona virus.  That aside, a number of persons were found not to be wearing masks in public which is now mandatory and is posing a huge challenge to many persons.   Since the S.O.E. was imposed, hundreds have been found not to be in compliance. Here is News Five’s Hipolito Novelo with a report.


Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General

“As we start to move about more, as we start to do more things and interact more everybody is required to wear a mask when you are in a public place or a public space.”


Michael Peyrefitte

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting 

But it seems that at least twenty-six persons did not get the memo. Police officers along with members of the public make up the sixty-one individuals who were arrested on Wednesday for beaching the S.O.E. regulations. Fifteen persons were caught in public during the curfew hours.


Michael Peyrefitte

“Even though new laws are in place to make it even more relaxed the curfew is still in place. Come eight o’clock tonight everything shuts down until five in the morning. Nothing changes that. Curfew for children still in place.”


Fourteen persons were unable to provide a reasonable explanation or proof to the arresting officer as to why they were outside their home. Two persons were arrested for failure to comply with social distancing rules. Attorney Audrey Matura is representing three persons who were similarly charged but on a different occasion.


Audrey Matura

Audrey Matura, Attorney

“They are making the charges without being able to substantiate it with evidence. The biggest example is that if I am going to charge you as a police officer, if I say ‘Hipolito you were hanging out with Marleni and at the same time you were not keeping social distancing of six feet. It is my word against your word’. How do we know it is not six feet? The police failed to be walking around with a measuring feet and put it between two parties and see it did not meet six feet. They don’t have the evidence. You can’t just say you weren’t six feet apart. Who determines what is six feet if not measure. Six feet is a concise number. It is concise evidence. So that is definitely one of the biggest short comings I have seen with the police.”


Hipolito Novelo 

“But one would say that you can tell when two persons are not six feet apart from each other.”


Audrey Matura

“But in the court it is not what you think. It is evidence that counts. Six feet is six feet.   The AG has failed us miserably in complying those regulations. Let me tell you why. The regulations in some areas are not clear and then as he goes along he gives it his own interpretation. The commissioner gives it his own interpretation and then the public stays confuse.”


Whether it is confusion, ignorance or a decision not to follow the law, one thing is for sure, frontline workers are under stress and healthcare workers are getting overwhelmed.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“I can tell you that healthcare workers can get frustrated because of that. You are now seeing neighboring Mexico for example is reporting the frustrating that healthcare workers are seeing because the key prevention measures are not going anywhere. Unless we start taking the measures in place we will not be able to go back to simple activities. I don’t know if it is frustration. I think it is going to be a difficult word to describe it. I can tell you I have one headache less now that we have sixteen recovered case. When you are out in the streets you realize people are buying beers socializing, no mask, people who are still smoking all these measures you wish would not exist I think that can easily spell trouble if we are not careful.”


Three persons also failed to provide a reasonable explanation as to why they were crossing district boundaries but the most serious offence is the one committed by one person on Wednesday and that is entering Belize illegally.


Michael Peyrefitte

“The borders are still closed. You cannot enter or exit the country as per normal and if you do so illegally you will go to jail for three months in the first instance and a year for the second instance. You can’t even pay a fine if you breach the border rules. The borders are still close.”


But persons are still coming into the country and that is a serious cause for concern, especially since we have no active cases and relaxed regulations allow people to move about more and with more movements the potential of a COVID-19 spread in the second wave is more like to occur.  Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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