By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle reportedly intervened after a COVID Task Force swooped on Latitudes Restaurant on Wednesday evening.
The COVID-19 Police Task Force, according to Latitudes, entered the establishment, ticketed its patrons and made an attempt to ticket the business itself. Management called the establishment’s attorney, Wayne Munroe, QC.
Mr Munroe told The Tribune Friday that he was certain the restaurant was not in contravention of emergency powers orders.
He said: “I was called to Latitudes because they (police) were purporting, I believe, that the restaurant shouldn’t have been doing indoor dining. And, they were writing up the patrons and were in the process of writing up the business. I know as a fact that restaurants in hotels can do indoor dining by Regulation 46 of the COVID Emergency Orders. So I went there.
“I think there was a superintendent and an ASP there talking to the manager. I reached out to the Commissioner of Police and explained to him that they were making a mistake as Latitudes is in a hotel. He (the Commissioner) had to speak to the most senior officer and he gave them instructions and then they recalled the tickets and they left.”
Latitudes is located in the Nassau Harbour Club on East Bay Street.
The restaurant posted a statement on its Facebook page thanking the commissioner for a positive intervention.
The statement read: “The ownership of Latitudes restaurant at the Harbour Club Hotel and Marina, expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the Commissioner of Police, Paul Rolle, after he intervened to stop the ticketing of their guests by police officers last night.
“Dozens of patrons were initially issued $300 tickets by police officers assigned to the COVID task force before Latitudes’ attorney, Wayne Munroe, who was also present at the establishment, reached out to the Commissioner. Mr Munroe said the event was a misunderstanding of the emergency orders on the officers’ part, and even though his clients would have lost business due to this error, Latitudes has determined not to seek any legal action.”
The Tribune also reached out to Commissioner Rolle for his take on the incident, but he declined to “comment further” on the matter.
Mr Munroe explained explained that he reached out to the commissioner because he was aware that there was a lot of potential liability unnecessarily for the government.
"When I find that, I always try to get the matter resolved. I’ve found that this commissioner of police is very proactive. If something is not going correctly, he addresses it. It saves the public purse a lot of expense.
“Let’s say if this had gone ahead and these people had gone to court, we would represent them and they (police) are bound to lose because this is a hotel. Then we would also sue for malicious prosecution, then you would have monies tabled to them and monies tabled to us, so the commissioner acted very proactively and that was really that. If you can avoid liability you do.”
Mr Munroe said he is not casting blame on the officers who attempted to ticket the establishment as, he said, he does not know if they had proper guidance as to what the law says.
In its statement, the management of Latitudes expressed apologies to its patrons for the incident and told them to feel free to continue safely dining at the establishment. The statement added that it was unfortunate that something like that had to occur, but expressed appreciation for “the quick intervention by the Commissioner and his professionalism to resolve this matter swiftly”.