(Businessman: Clifton Bacchus)
Attorney-at-law Latchmie Rahamat says that her client Clifton Bacchus, the owner of SleepIn Hotel and Carnival Casino feels vindicated after a charge for breaching the nationwide COVID-19 curfew was dismissed against him on Friday.
On May 3, 2021, Bacchus, 50, pleaded not guilty to a charge which alleged that on March 12, 2021, at 288-289 Church Street, Georgetown, he breached the curfew imposed from 10:30 pm to 04:00 am. He was released on $10,000 bail then.
Magistrate Annette Singh dismissed the charge against Bacchus on Friday when he made another appearance at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
From the outset, his lawyer had argued that the charge was bad in law because the COVID-19 Emergency Guidelines for March listed hotels, interior lodges and guest houses as a business that can operate for 24 hours since they offer essential services.
During an interview on Friday, Rahamat said that persons who visit Guyana should be allowed to go to their respective hotels since some of them arrive on flights landing at “graveyard hours.”
She noted, “You have flights arriving at graveyard hours when the curfew is in effect. So, those people have to wait at the airport for the curfew to expire? Should the hotel not have staff during the graveyard and curfew hours to service those who are staying at the hotel?”
While emphasising that public health and safety are of paramount importance in light of the pandemic, she stressed that those who are enforcing the COVID-19 Emergency Measures “must understand them.”
Nevertheless, the lawyer added that Bacchus feels vindicated.
“He feels vindicated and he is hoping that the relevant authorities take note and understand that they are bound by the guidelines and if the guidelines list essential services then they have to permit the services to operate beyond the curfew hours,” Rahamat added.
Two of SleepIn Hotel’s staff were also charged with breaching the curfew. Shintell Marshell, a cashier, and Ian Robinson both of whom performed late-night duties at the hotel had initially denied the charges. They were also represented by Rahamat who informed that the charges were dismissed against them.