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Saturday, May 09, 2020

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC)— he Trinidad and Tobago government Saturday announced a phased re-opening of the country following the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but maintained that the borders would remain closed at least until June.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said schools would remain closed until September and that churches would also not be allowed to conduct services as had been the case prior to the pandemic.

He told a news conference, however that citizens must not put down their guards and continue to follow the measures earlier announced including social distancing, wearing of masks and in some respect continue the stay at home policy.

Health authorities said that Trinidad has recorded 116 cases of the virus with eight deaths.

Rowley told reporters that under the first phase of the re-opening exercise, from May 12-23, food establishments, restaurants, street vendors among others will be allowed to open their businesses, but there would be no in-service dining and there would be no congregation of more than five people.

He said people would be allowed to engage in outdoor exercises, but keeping in mind all the time the various measures that had been implemented to prevent the virus from spreading.

The Government said that hardware stores, pharmacies and supermarkets would be allowed to operate within a 12- hour period and that the green light had been given to three companies involved in exporting products such as cement, would be allowed to operate.

Rowley said during the second phase, the whole manufacturing sector would be opened, as well as public sector construction work with public transport allowing for carrying 50 per cent capacity.

Rowley said under the third phase, which begins on June 7, all public servants “will come out to work” even while the authorities may consider alternative days for employees to turn up for work.

He said that public transport capacity would be increased to 75 per cent and warned that progress going forward would be based on the island graduating back to a state of normalcy.

On the issue of the borders, Rowley said he was pleased that his administration had taken the firm decision to close them “because if our virus load in the population is so low, then the only place, other than our own population growing it here by misbehaviour…would be an inflow of infected people from the outside.

“And to prevent that from happening we do not want to squander the good results of the sacrifices we have made so we will maintain our border closure until we are satisfied that the external environment is such that we can accept into Trinidad and Tobago, persons from heavily infected areas outside.”


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