NATIONAL Security Minister Stuart Young on Tuesday disclosed that TT nationals have been leaving this country by sea and going to Venezuela.
At a virtual news conference, Young said this is a breach of existing public health regulations under which all TT's borders will remain closed until April 30.
In response to a question, Young said no Venezuelans have been leaving their country to come to TT.
"What is actually happening is, there have been Trinidadians who have been taking their vessels and going across to Venezuela."
After a sting operation by security forces on Sunday, Young said, some of them were charged for breaching this regulation. He warned that if any other citizen tries to breach the border controls now in place, "they will be prosecuted, they will be charged."
He added that Venezuelans understand that during the covid19 pandemic "the best place for them to stay right now is in Venezuela."
Venezuela, like TT and many other nations, he pointed out, has closed its borders to curb the spread of the pandemic.
He was surprised about a report that four TT nationals managed to find themselves in Venezuela through another route. He said they should contact the TT embassy in Caracas for assistance.
On a report that someone in Tobago had escaped from a quarantine facility there, Young said the police, Defence Force and private security found him and brought him back.
With respect to 35 TT nationals in Barbados, Young said he sent a diplomatic note to the Barbadian government to have them tested using covid19 kits the Government had sent to Barbabdos.
He observed that their mandatory 14-day quarantine period had ended and hoped they tested negative. Young said the next steps for them, including whether they can return home, will depend on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and other health experts.
He said the worst thing which could happen is that they "test negative and they re-engage with people who may have covid19 and get contaminated all over again."
Young previously hinted that should they be allowed to return home, they will be put in quarantine for 14 days in keeping with public health regulations.
Young also said he and Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses have contacted their Suriname counterparts to ensure that TT nationals there are tested for covid19. He added that communication with lawyers representing the TT nationals stranded there have varied the number in Suriname from one to 33.
Young explained that under the public health regulations, social workers are considered essential workers as the elderly and vulnerable in society would need help at this time. He said this could include members of religious groups but in doing their social distribution activities, they must ensure that social distancing is maintained as covid19 is a contact virus.
Young said some catering services, especially those to frontline workers, will continue.
On convenience stores in gas stations, he said most such stores have liquor licences and will be required to close at 6 pm under the regulations. He added this will not affect the sale of gasoline to drivers, which will continue as normal.