Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) and Health officials conducted a walkthrough of the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC), today, to look at the systems in place to ensure the safety of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) high-level team that will be arriving in Guyana to observe the recount of the votes cast on March 2, 2020 amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We have to ensure and guarantee the safety of the CARICOM team. As soon as that is finished, we have to communicate what we have done to ensure the safety to the Secretary-General [of CARICOM, Irwin LaRocque]. The people are virtually afraid of contracting the virus. So, that is why we’re leaving no stones unturned to ensure their safety,” Chairperson of GECOM told media officials at the ACCC.
The officials from the NCTF will make recommendations to GECOM on how many persons can be housed in one station; their distance apart; and the usage of equipment, etc.
The Chair could not say when the recount process will commence, however, the Guyana Standard understands this will be hinged on the arrival of the team.
Initially, the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) had recommended that the team be quarantined upon arrival for the period of two-weeks. However, a decision was taken to have the officials tested prior to their arrival in Guyana. Not only has that changed, but also, the working hours of the recount stations. The NCTF has recommended that the recount conclude at 5pm, but the Commission has decided to go until 6pm, taking the total hours of operations to 10 hours (8am to 6pm).
Singh said that she is hopeful that the team will arrive after all the systems are put in place, which will also include security measures.
Government-nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander delving into the details of the walkthrough, said: “…What we did was to have a walkthrough to see which are the possible areas to be used – remember the Chairman had indicated that there be no more than 10 [work stations to conduct the recount]…We anticipate in some instances a total of 14 persons [that will be operating at once]…What they (NCTF and Health officials) have done is to say: this space can’t hold 14, or it can hold 14.”
Meanwhile, opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj said that a total number of 14 persons, which will include GECOM staffers and observers, may not be needed in one place. He is of the belief that this number can be decreased to pave the way for more stations to be erected.
The Commission will meet again sometime this week.