Antigua to re-examine mask-wearing protocols in light of robberies

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government says it will re-examine the relevant protocols regarding the wearing of masks as a means to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), following a series of daylight robberies.

Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin said he condemned “the open and brazen daylight robbery” at a supermarket over the last weekend where a gun-totting bandit wearing a mask got away with EC$5,000.

“That incident has forced the government and law enforcement officials to look seriously at developing an appropriate protocol which will strike a balance between persons using a mask or some other suitable material to cover their noses and mouths in order to protect themselves and others from either contracting or spreading the COVID-19 disease, and criminals who seek to hide their identity before, during and after they commit crimes,” Benjamin said.

He promised that “a satisfactory protocol will be arrived at and shortly, the public will be duly informed.”

But Benjamin urged businesses and the general population to remain vigilant at all times, assuring also that law enforcement officers will do all in their power to provide protection.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the existing curfew will remain in place even after as the economy is being re-opened gradually “primarily for security reasons.

“Last thing we want is individuals roaming at nights and wearing a mask. It’s legal to wear a mask and that in itself could support the nefarious actors among us so we have to be very careful relaxing the curfew,” he added.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney is urging the public to be vigilant adding, “the police have always been concerned about this possibility and we have been proactive and very vigilant with our patrols and our presence at some of the business places.

“Now, we will continue to be even more vigilant and we will call for the business persons to be alert, and also members of the public, that they should report any suspicious activity at any business place or any residential area,” Rodney said.