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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley this afternoon announced the rollback of some Covid-19 restrictions.
Speaking from Tobago, Rowley said that after deep consultation and considerations for all, places of worship will be permitted to open for services, but no longer than one hour.
Social distancing and spacing, with a 50 per cent capacity, would be expected. He suggested multiple services a day with smaller groups of worshippers.
Public servants would be expected to get back out to work as of Monday, with proper Covid-19 protocols enforced.
Gyms will be opened at 50 per cent capacity from 6a.m. to 10p.m using an appointment system.
Tertiary level students would be allowed back to schools where there was need for physical interaction, for example laboratories and flight schools.
For cinemas, theatres and members’ clubs (casinos), they would be allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity but no food and drink would be allowed. They would be allowed to open from 8a.m. to 10p.m.
However, the prime minister said that because of the nature of the interaction of people attending bars and restaurants, they will not be allowed to reopen for in-house dining or drinking.
He said alcohol had a way of encouraging sensible people from behaving in a less than sensible way.
“What we are sacrificing here is recreation and congregation”, he said, since once someone had a few drinking, they forgot all about Covid concerns.
Beaches and coastal waters would now be available for the population to use.
However, rivers and ponds would remain closed.
Guest house and hotels would be allowed to use the pool facilities.
Rowley asked that people not run to Maracas or Pigeon Point immediately, because Covid would be waiting.
He said that the beaches would be closed again, if people did not do the right thing.
Regarding the border and the repatriation of citizens,
The regulations come into effect on Monday.
Rowley also disclosed that ten per cent of the repatriated citizens were testing positive for Covid-19, which was an indication of what would have happened had the country allowed everyone home.
He also apologised to those bearing the burden of the restrictions.
“We did this together” said Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh who also spoke at the news conference.
He said it was a team effort involving 1.4 million people but as the country reopens over the next few months, he asked that people continue to social distance, wear masks and limit the number of people being involved to family homes.
He said that one to two persons a day could be expected die from the disease every day in Trinidad and Tobago going forward, which is why it was imperative that the country protect its most vulnerable citizens – the elderly.
Rowley said he was directly affected by Covid-19 in the past few days he had lost a “close friend and neighbour” to the deadly virus.
“So I feel different today. When it comes home to you that closely it is difficult to think of it as a number,” he said.
Rowley said he was to establish a committee to discuss the removal of the exemption system, allowing citizens to return home as flights become available.
This, he said, as he was satisfied the country’s health system can monitor and identify persons returning home.
Depending on where the come from, he said, the Chief Medical officer can determine the kind of quarantine required. (Trinidad and Tobago Express)