Cops Cracking Down on Mask, Distancing Violations

And for those who don't see that reality, the police department is determined to MAKE THEM see it. Police announced today that they will start cracking down on persons who are ignoring the rules of wearing face masks and practicing social distancing while in public. And the Commissioner is giving cops an incentive to make arrests!

The commissioner announced today that this lax observation of the COVID rules will no longer be tolerated. Here's how he put it:

Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"I think this weekend was one of our worst weekends in terms of the number of positive cases. And so, as the primary law enforcement agency, who have the responsibility of ensuring that the quarantine laws are adhered to - and when I say quarantine, I also am speaking about the 2 SI's, 1 that deal with social distancing, and the other one that deals with the wearing of the mask - are adhered to. We must ensure that our officers really and truly begin to enforce the law more than they have been doing over the past few weeks. We have seen a significant relaxation on the part of the police, in terms of enforcing the law. When you move around, in the public, you'll see a number of persons not wearing masks. We see large gatherings, like for example, there was a photograph with the water taxi area in Belize City, where a number of persons were clustered together, and many of them were not wearing masks, not social distancing. We're seeing in the night clubs, people not wearing masks, not social distancing. We're seeing a number of social events, people not wearing masks, not practicing social distance. These are things that put our entire nation at risk."

And as we said, the Commissioner will also encourage officers to start making more arrests for masks and social distancing violations. He is now offering a reward to the cop who makes the most arrests for these violations, and he told us today, that he hopes that his officers will be incentivized to ramp up enforcement:

Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"I have sent out a directive 2 my officers that there is the need for us to enforce the law more. As a matter of fact, I am even offering a reward to the police officer who makes the most arrests for not wearing masks, or failing to adhere to social distance, for the month of August. And I'll try to do that every month. I think that the incentive will serve as a way of motivating the police officers to more. It is only by doing this that we'll be able to have a serious grip on what we need to do to ensure that we help to prevent the further spread of the virus in our country."

"When you read social media, and you listen to some of the discourse that people are having, in terms of them being afraid for the airport opening, afraid for school opening, afraid for this or afraid for that, but these are the same people who are walking around not wearing masks, and not practicing social distance. Whatever it is they're saying is inconsistent with their behavior."

"I want to encourage my Belizean people to ensure that we adhere to the rules, adhere to the laws. If it is that you wear your masks, you practice social distance, then there will be no need for the police to have to arrest you. And if it is that you're met by the police, and you have on a chin mask or a forehead mask, the police are going to arrest you because you're not wearing the mask the way you ought to. The law said a nose and mouth covering. It didn't say a chin or a forehead covering. So, the masks must be covering your nose and your mouth."

The Commissioner is also hoping that the Government will agree with his suggestion to hold the owners of night clubs, bars, and other night-time establishments accountable for mask and social distancing violations on their premises. Here's how he explained why he thinks this will help in the policing of this matter:

Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"I am going to speak to the Attorney General today or tomorrow, and I am going to advocate that there be an amendment to the SI to hold the establishment owner or operator liable for allowing persons to enter their establishments without a mask or be on their premises not practicing social distancing. If it is that we were to hold the establishment owners or operators accountable, then they are going to ensure that they enforce the law, because they do not want to be held accountable. And that will help us. And I would want that if it is that they don't adhere to the law, that the penalty is that their license is suspended for a month in the first instance."

Channel 7