Coronavirus
TT | Oct 12, 2020

COVID-19 measures relaxed in T&T

/ Our Today

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Dr Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: CARICOM.org)

Trinidad and Tobago has relaxed some of its COVID-19 protocols to assist in the twin-island republic’s economic recovery.

The relaxation was announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on the weekend, as he argued that the hard restrictions could not continue indefinitely since the economy could be damaged beyond repair. 

Rowley said that, with the COVID-19 death count now at 90, and people contracting the virus in manageable numbers, the country would maintain the approach adopted a month ago to suppress the spread of the virus.

Speaking at a news conference on Saturday in Port of Spain, the prime minister detailed the relaxed COVID-19 protocols as follows:

  • Gatherings of 10 people will be allowed. Previously, it was five people being allowed to gather.
  • Funerals will now be limited to 20 people.
  • There will be an increase in the two flights per day to and from Tobago. There will now be six flights a day.
  • Tobago Reef and Caroni Swamp operators would be granted exemptions to resume tours.

Rowley said his administration was working towards preventing another lockdown of the country, since it would result in a financial burden to the state and further cripple the economy.

Recalling that the first lockdown had been funded by the government through borrowing, he stressed: “We now have to build on that foundation by not incurring that expense.” 

While expressing his disappointment in the reports coming out of the public service, where people have been taking advantage of the restrictions, Rowley said 50 per cent of the workers were expected to go out to work on rotation.

He conceded that weak management had allowed the situation to grow out of control, resulting in a situation where some workers were just not bothering to come out to work, and that there was a general free for all. 

Rowley added that there were tens of thousands of public servants who would be fully paid to stay home. He said the plan going forward would be to continue with the 50 per cent rotation, but that there would be a written roster kept at all locations and workers are required to comply. According to the T&T prime minister, the head of the public service would be instructed to do this, as authorised under law. He declared that those who did not show up would be deemed to be absent from work, and would not be paid. 

Rowley pointed out that one department that handled 200,000 transactions a month was down to 62 and this could not continue.

He said the 50 per cent rotation was no joke, but a serious response to the virus noting that there would be no changes to restrictions at bars, restaurants and places of worship.

The prime minister stated that, by October 24, changes would be made to bring back activities at churches, bars and restaurants. The regulations related to team sports and contact sports remain in effect.

He said that, in the coming months, people got together to party and children gather to trick or treat pointing out that these activities would need to be closely supervised. Pointing out that Divali was also a gathering event, Rawley expressed the hope that the level would be so low that the risk would allow for some participation.

Regarding the Christmas season, which should kick off in mid-November, the T&T prime minister contended that with the new protocol in place, he is hoping that the sacrifices being made now would allow for a happier festive season.

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