Minister of National Security Stuart Young has granted exemptions to a group of TT nationals in Guyana and another group stranded in Venezuela to return home.
Young said during a virtual media press conference on Thursday morning that the group in Guyana – which includes around 23 people working in the oil industry – is making travel arrangements for final approval. He said, “I have also authorised those who applied to return from Venezuela, Margarita.”Young said the government will not bear the cost for the returning nationals.
He added, “We will be preparing for their return and when they arrive the chief medical officer will decide as to how they are handled after a medical assessment.”
An exemption to the closure of TT's borders will also be granted for a woman from TT in the Bahamas with a medical condition. When asked about the group from Venezuela who cannot pay for their trip home, Young said he can only give exemptions but it’s up to citizens to find their way back.
“The Government cannot undertake repatriation of citizens around the world. We continue to manage our border very carefully...We granted them permission…so we have done our part.”
Since the closing of the borders on March 23, 68 nationals from a cruise ship in Guadeloupe, 33 from Barbados and 69 from Suriname have received exemptions and returned to TT.
He said a number of the 330,000 nationals around the world, in India, the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere have started the process of requesting an exemption to return. He said the government will put the safety of the people in the country on the front burner, while managing the return of citizens.
He said exemptions are being granted in a “measurable manner” so that TT’s health facilities and state agencies will be able to manage and contain any imported cases of the virus. Young said there is an ongoing consideration for hundreds of nationals trapped onboard cruise ships.
On March 12, at a post -Cabinet media briefing, the government announced to suspend all cruise ship docking in TT. When asked about exemptions for nationals working on cruise ships who hope to return, Young pointed out many Caricom nations were in this position. He said all the cruise ship workers were sheltering place.
"From what we are told by cruise ship companies are our nationals are being looked after and that is the best place for them to be at this stage.” He said currently the focus is the nationals in Venezuela, Margarita and Guyana.