La Isla Carinosa may not have been so loving to an American tourist over the weekend. A video went viral of a female American tourist arrested by two police officers in Caye Caulker Village. The video shows police arresting the tourist for not wearing her face mask properly. The woman refused to be arrested, telling the officers that she has read the mask rules for Belize and was eating her chicken wings while walking, and that was why she did not have her mask on. Online, the public threw their
support behind the tourist and condemned the officers. So did Police Commissioner Chester Williams, who quickly ordered the woman’s release, posting on Facebook, “The officers erred as if the lady was eating, which in fact, she had something in her hand that she was eating, then the officers overreacted. The lady should not have been arrested…” But today, Commissioner Williams had a new perspective as he told the media there was more to the story than what the video told.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
“From my understanding is that the officers had passed moments before and they saw the tourist without a mask and they had warned the tourist about not wearing a mask. Subsequent to that the officers returned and the tourist was seen without wearing her mask and based on that again the officers went to warn her to wear her mask and she went off to the officers. Let me make you clear is that the quarantine regulations that are currently enforce does not make any provisions for persons who are eating or drinking in public not to be wearing a mask. However as a matter of our internal practice we have advice our officers that is a person is eating or drinking in public or any public space then we must exercise our discretion and so it was in that light that I had said the officers may have overreacted and could have used their discretion. Equally it must be understood that the tourist must abide by the law. Even in the video footage that you saw the officers did try to exercise some level of patience in how they dealt with her. But at the end of the day we don’t to promote an environment that would not be conducive to tourists, especially in a time like that.”
“Would you agree that she showed some sort of entitlement because she is an American tourist? She mentions it.”
“Well, that can be deduced from what she said. But again as Department we thrive to be professional and I could understand the reason why the officers may have ran out of patient. You are trying to explain to a person the position of the law and they are adamant and she was very craft in what she did because she took the piece of meat and say, I am eating, I am eating. So that captured the attention of the Belizean people and so the Belize people reacted the way they did towards the officers.”
We reached out to the Belize Tourism Board on the tourism implications of the incident, but up to news time, there was no comment.