A minivan operator who services a Kingstown-South Leeward route is calling on the government to lead by example on the physical distancing guidelines it has elaborated.
The government has asked minibuses, most of which are licenced and insured to carry 18 passengers, to reduce their ridership to nine.
This is in keeping with the physical distancing guidelines intended to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, COVID 19.
Twelve cases of the illness — all of which were imported — have been confirmed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
However, a minibus driver asked iWitness News, on Wednesday, whether government-owned omnibuses used to transport various public sector workers were exempt from the physical distancing guidelines.
The driver told iWitness News he was asking that question as, on Wednesday, he saw a minibus assigned to the Prisons “jam packed” with prison officer travelling in the direction of the Belle Isle Correctional Facility.
The driver said that this occurred along the Nelson Mandela Highway even as police officers were stopping other minibuses and threatening to issue them with tickets if they were carrying more than nine passengers.
It is not clear on what basis the police would issue a ticket to minibus for transporting more than nine persons when the vehicle is licensed and insured to carry 18 passengers and no change has been made to the law.
It is not the first time in recent weeks that state officials or entities have disregarded the Ministry of Health’s physical distancing and other COVID-19-related guidelines.
Last week Friday — Good Friday — Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Minister of Health Luke Browne, -for the second time in a week, appeared in public in a manner at variance with the advice of their health officials amidst the COVID-19 pandemic-
– Gonsalves and Browne stood less than three feet apart for at least 36 minutes during a government event at Argyle International Airport.
Neither Gonsalves, Browne nor Francisco M. Perez Santana, Charge d’affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Kingstown wore a mask, as they stood almost shoulder-to-shoulder as Kingstown received a donation of COVID-19 test kits from Caracas.
Just one week earlier, on April 3, Gonsalves and Browne, along with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Cuthbert Knights were among some 30 persons at a Ministry of Health press conference in Kingstown.