Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh is expected to clear the air on Monday after Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith contradicted each other today, with regards to the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions on youth sport.
Griffith said, a full two weeks ago, that youth sporting competition for pre-teens (under-14) and teenagers was free to resume from 22 June. However, Dr Parasram said differently in a virtual press conference this morning.
“With regards to any activity in which children are participating before September, and as we have said time and time again,” said Dr Parasram, “we have to recall we are in the middle of a pandemic and things can’t be as they were before.
“We are asking, please, let all activities related to children be held [back] until September.”
The CMO doubled down when asked whether he was referring to all under-18 competition.
“It is not what I consider [a child], there is a legal definition,” said Dr Parasram. “I asked for my Ministry of Health legal officer to confirm and they have confirmed to me that 18 and under is considered a child—based on the legislation.”
Griffith fired back that Deyalsingh and Minister of National Security Stuart Young said differently and he took his directions from line ministers rather than the CMO. He also questioned the rationale used by Dr Parasram.
“The logic of the CMO is that it is not a Covid threat if a 16 or 17 yr old trains daily with his football team,” Griffith told Wired868, “but if they take part in a tournament, then the Covid virus would lift its head and kick in. In fact, it is just the opposite.
“[…] So to state that persons can train but not participate in a tournament, is alluding to Covid being a shrewd, tactical virus that is not a threat for minors if they train—but if they take part in a tournament, it then becomes a serious risk for a minor…”
A government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suggested that Griffith was right.
The government, according to the source, tacitly agreed with the commissioner of police to ‘turn a blind eye’ to competitions such as the YPL; and there is nothing in the health regulations to penalise youth sporting activity.
But, in a confusing twist, the Ministry of Health allegedly wanted the public to believe otherwise, so as not to encourage unregulated sporting activities between minors.
The episode, arguably, mirrored the government’s position on jogging, going out after hours and driving for non-essential business during the height of Covid-19 restrictions. All were discouraged by the police but none were actually illegal.
Griffith subsequently confirmed, after speaking to Deyalsingh, that there are no current restrictions for youth competition.
Deyalsingh has a job ahead of him at Monday’s virtual press conference, when he is expected to support Griffith’s interpretation of the health regulations, in relation to minors in sporting competition—while explaining why Dr Parasram, flanked by the ministers of health and national security, said the exact opposite this morning.