Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.  - ANGELO_MARCELLE
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. - ANGELO_MARCELLE

As part of Government's measures to prevent the spread of covid19, all non-nationals will be prohibited from entering TT for 14 days, announced the Prime Minister.

"We are disconnecting ourselves from the international community for the next 14 days."

He was speaking Monday at a post-Cabinet media briefing held at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain.

"We have been engaged in seeking to exclude the virus from our country, and now to contain our healthy people in such a way that the virus will not move from person to person."

He added: "To do this in the wider context we have to isolate ourselves from the supply of the virus from the source outside of TT."

Dr Rowley explained there can be exemptions via the Health Ministry through the National Security Ministry. He noted, for example, that Carpha workers and health personnel will have to come in.

TT currently has five covid19 cases, all imported.

Rowley said the travel restriction will have far-reaching consequences for the national airline Caribbean Airlines (CAL) which reported $54 million profit in 2018 and was to announce about $124 million profit in 2019 at a function that was supposed to be held Saturday. He stressed Government will ensure the country still has an airline and a staff after this period.

"We at the Government accept full responsibility for the country's affairs and we are expecting that our activities, our actions, our decisions will be made in collaboration with and in support of the business community and labour."

He said some actions taken will run counter to what Government has been trying to accomplish over the past four years, but will place TT on the best place on the "curve" as other countries that took these actions. He added that personal hygiene and conduct is a major part of the success or failure of Government's efforts.

Rowley said if legislation is required for any decisions taken, the Attorney General's Office is on standby.

National Security Minister Stuart Young said non-nationals will not be permitted entry into Trinidad after midnight Tuesday and this included by yachts and by boats except there is an exemption granted. He pointed out that nationals included citizens and people with permanent residency. He said nationals, however, will still need to tell authorities where they are coming from as part of the health protocols.

He said that the Works Ministry is looking at the ferry service in terms of social distancing, which would require a reduction in the number of passengers and an increase in daily sailings, and there will also be conversations with CAL about flights. He added that cargo ships will continue to be allowed, but they will be subject to all the protocols and there will be no disembarkation of the crew.

Asked about people trying to illegally enter this country from Venezuela, Young said the coast guard and defence force have been asked to focus their resources on this issue, and air assets will be utilised. He added, the ministry has not seen an increase in attempts to illegally enter this country. Young also said, people here illegally who present with symptoms will be facilitated.

Rowley said one would not want to detain an infected person in a prison environment as that would be the worst place for it, and the virus would have a "field day."

He stressed a number of countries were late to to come to the realisation of how serious the covid19 situation is.

"We are in a crisis. We are in an emergency. There is no gainsaying that."

He said Italy, which is considered to be developed, has a health system that a US presidential candidate said the country should copy, but even with the "perfect system" the city of Milan has been overwhelmed by the virus.

"I know there are those in TT who believe that our system is the worst. I can tell you our system is as good as many and better than most in TT. And we are lucky that we have, in our population, some of the best healthcare givers and we are now putting that as a strength."

He said the restrictions will cause some inconvenience and some pain but the actions were to ensure no citizen was left behind. He stressed that panic buying will not help but will simply worsen the situation.

"Panic is the worst state to be in if you are going to respond to this situation. Let us keep a level head, let us be reasonable and let us be our brother's keepers and we going to get through this."

Rowley was asked if Government was considering a state of emergency with a curfew but he replied Government was not.

"Will a state of emergency make you wash your hands?"

Newsday sought a response from Caribbean Airlines on the travel restriction but was unsuccessful.



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