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COVID-19 Emergency measures in Guyana have only slightly changed for April 2021 with the 10:30 pm to 4:00 am curfew remaining but the inclusion of greater expectations from public transportation operators.
The changes, which will take effect from April 1 to 31, 2021, have already been gazetted and signed by Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony.
Under ‘Domestic and International Travel’, it has now been included that the operator or conductor of any public transportation service shall be responsible for ensuring that their passengers comply with the measures regarding the wearing of a mask, sanitizing and social distancing.
Any operator or conductor who fails to comply with this commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to the penalty provided for under Section 152 of the Public Health Ordinance.
In an interview with the Village Voice News months ago, President of the United Minibus Union (UMU), Eon Andrews had lamented that in the middle of a deadly pandemic minibus operators have been given the go-ahead to carry their normal number of passengers and many are not wearing facemasks within.
“If you tell bus people to carry their capacity I can bet you that they’re going to put an extra one and that is what is happening,” the UMU President said.
International organisations such as the WHO/PAHO have recommended that persons remain at least 6 feet away from each other during the global health crisis. The local Ministry of Health is also encouraging Guyanese to do the same while out and about.
However, Andrews said that he has seen some minibuses carrying up to four and five persons per seat. In other cases, he said that passengers, minibus operators, and touts were not properly attired with facemasks.
In the early months of the pandemic, minibus operators were advised to carry only two passengers while maintaining a 3 feet distance. There were calls too for them to operate at 75% capacity.
The Village Voice News observed that many minibus operators were adhering to this guideline and some passengers would even refuse to travel in a minibus otherwise. In the present day, this has changed significantly.
Andrews said that he has received complaints that passengers are being verbally abused when they speak up about these health risks while in minibusses and they oftentimes resort to complying for the sake of being transported to their destination.