Tinidad and Tobago is now experiencing clusters of the Covid 19 coronavirus, and some of the recent victims were infected at bars and schools.
As a result, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced this afternoon that gatherings would be restricted to ten, and public servants would be asked to report to work on rotation or by alphabetical order, which would reduce the number of public servants out on a daily basis by 50 per cent.
The restrictions would not affect the August 10 election day where social distancing spacing protocols would be enforced.
People would be expected to sanitise before going into the polling station, sanitise before going into the polling booth, and have sanitised stamps to use when actually voting.
Speaking at a media briefing in Port of Spain, Rowley: “We are encouraging people to wear a mask…once you are going out or interacting with people in close quarters”.
He said there were 500,000 masks in the State system, since it was proven to help reduce spread.
He said that with four schools now having to close (the latest today) the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) was now “on watch” and a decision would be made in the coming days as to whether it would be written, based on how many cases.
He said if there was no SEA exam, there would be no basis to reopen schools on September 1 for the entrance of a new batch of pupils.
He said SEA classes at schools would continue in the interim, but action would be taken if the risk was considered too great.
Rowley said he wanted police to act against political parties if campaigns involved more than ten people.
He appealed to political leaders to enforce the ten-person rule, and that the people involved in walkabouts needed to be reduced.
He said he didn’t expect the parties to have motorcades.
And also under watch would be bars and restaurants which would see restrictions if cases continued to be linked to those establishments.
Rowley said he was surprised that police had not arrested and dragged before the court people who were openly breaching the regulations related to bars.
He said that the police needed to act if people were having parties outside of bars, closing doors and hosting customers, or restaurants having more people than is allowed in the establishments.
“I have seen people, some of them supposed to be responsible people, telling people there is no Covid here….That is unhelpful”.
He said the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) cricket competition would continue, but any player who breached the requirements of the protocols being arranged would be penalised.
He said no action would be taken regarding the number of people in public transport, but it would be closely examined.
He also said that it appeared that the people of south Trinidad were not taking the warnings seriously.
The Prime Minister, who was in San Fernando this morning, and had been at multiple sod-turning ceremonies over the past week, said “I am sad to report that the population in south Trinidad is not taking this matter seriously, and that it is someone else problems and it is someone else’s politics.
The new regulations would be enforced by 6a.m. Sunday.
This story was first published by the Trinidad Express