Elections will go on says Rowley

Date: 
Friday, July 31, 2020 - 20:00

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Despite an increase in locally spread COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the August 10 General Election will go on.

This as the country recorded five new cases to bring the overall count to 169.

Speaking to reporters after attending Eid-ul-Adha celebrations at the San Fernando Jama Masjid yesterday morning, Rowley said he had warned the population repeatedly about taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but some people had become complacent.

“The last time I spoke on this matter, I kept saying to the country we are still in danger but unfortunately there were some people who wanted to behave as though it (COVID-19 pandemic) had passed. You were constantly reminded that danger was ahead and we are not inventing this,” Rowley said.

He commended the officials at the masjid for adhering to social distancing and COVID safety guidelines.

“I am happy to see discipline. I observe that upstairs (the masjid) everything was well organised, the floor marked, everyone was observing social distancing and everyone was masked. This is the kind of discipline that I would like to see in the rest of the country,” Rowley said.

Asked whether the Government will consider postponing elections if the cases continue to climb, Rowley said, “We will have our elections, there is no question about that and we will continue to be observant and we’re guided by the information and the science. We are not taking decisions based on panic or surmising.”

He explained that the Government was managing the COVID-19 crisis in a reasonable and structured manner.

“There will be no panic response. We have had a measured and sensible response governed by the science and that will continue. We are not surprised by it. We are prepared to deal with that and that is what has given us the strength and confidence. We are prepared and that preparation is the only sensible response,” he said.

Asked whether there will be the closure of bars and cinemas to prevent spread, Rowley said, “We will make any such decision based on the facts of the circumstance. I am going to a meeting now. We meet constantly on this matter. We will look at the situation and the facts and then we will make balanced decisions. We are not making decisions vikey-vie.”

Asked whether CARICOM or Commonwealth observers will be here for the election, he said, “As of this morning, we had no advice that they are coming. They had difficulty putting it together and later in the day, I will declare what will happen. We did make the request but it appears there are difficulties from all colleagues around the Commonwealth.”

Earlier this week, Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) leader Phillip Alexander, citing the new localised COVID spread, had called on President Paula-Mae Weekes to postpone the election under Section 34 of the Representation of the People Act, which would allow for a postponement of up to 30 days due to the pandemic. However, Alexander said Weekes denied the request and he wrote another request letter after the latest spike on Thursday.