What is Public vs. Private?

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I find it amazing that there is so much argument about the legal interpretations of what is ‘private’ and ‘public’ in the wake of the Bayside and other parties.

Even the AG has said these determinations are very complex. It seems we have lost our way trying to make laws and enforcing them, we have forgotten the purpose of formulating the laws to prevent Covid-19 spread.

Everywhere we go there are reminders of how to prevent Covid- 19: social distancing, wash your hands and sanitise, wear your mask, no public gathering of more than five and so on.

The object of these protocols and laws is to prevent the spread of this virus which is currently ravaging our small country.

People who are organising and attending such parties are being reckless, irresponsible and inhumane because though they may have the party in a private setting, these patrons would eventually go back into society and become possible spreaders.

Worse yet, when law enforcement visits such parties, they say they need a clarification of what is ‘private’ and ‘public’. That is not the issue. The issue is whether these people’s behaviour is calculated to endanger the life of other citizens now and in the future.

It does not matter whether they are paying or non-paying patrons.

From what I saw on social media of the Bayside fiasco, such a gathering and behaviour would risk the lives of other citizens and law enforcement should have taken decisive action.

During the period when we were allowed to go back to mosque, we were visited by people from the Ministry of Health, to witness our protocols in place for Covid-19 prevention.

We were even asked to document these practices and send it to the Ministry of Health.

We were happy to co-operate, and I thought that these people are really working.

We are living in times when law enforcement must use judgment, if anyone or group’s behaviour is calculated to endanger the lives of other citizens, by being a possible spreader, then they must act decisively.

I am not one calling for the right to go back to mosque for congregation because others are allowed to have their private/public parties.

That defeats the objective of this fight. But law enforcement must be just.

The recent behaviour of law enforcement leaves me with the sad feeling of those lines from George Orwell’s, Animal Farm, ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’.

Shaffiat Hosein
St Augustine