TRADE Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon says that with the reopening of the economy, businesses must remember that the coronavirus remains a threat.
She was speaking at Monday's Health Ministry covid19 media conference.
"The main challenge now is getting all types of businesses back on track in the shortest possible period but without eroding the gains made in maintaining the public health environment over the last two months.
"And people talk about 'ensuring lives and we must move to livelihoods.' But one does not exist without the other because you can't have livelihood without lives. The business ecosystem depends on lives – customers coming into your organisation and a healthy workforce as well. So you have to have lives in order to have livelihoods."
She said that while Government's measures have been extremely successful in neutralising the immediate threat posed by covid19 "the fact is, and business people need to understand this, it has not eliminated the underlying dangers of the virus and the inherent continuing threat to human lives and to our safety."
Gopee-Scoon said it was important the Health Ministry continued the risk-based approach to the phased reopening of the economy especially as there has been a resurgence of the virus in several countries and she cited China, Singapore, Japan, Germany and Brazil, the latter recording 485 deaths in 24 hours.
"So there are countries that have done the phasing-in but it has not served them well. So business people, we ought to be careful."
She stressed that businesses have the responsibility to put in place individual protocols to protect against covid19 which have been seen and approved by the Health Ministry.
Gopee-Scoon said Government recognised the significant challenges being experienced by firms of all sizes.
"And, of course, there is the need to bring the economy back into its normal state. But again it has to be acknowledged that bringing persons back into full employment we have to be careful about (it). Yes it will relieve their hardships but we have to exercise the care that is necessary."
She said Government remained particularly concerned about the impact of covid19 on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and their important contribution to the economy. She noted that according to the Central Statistical Office (CSO) there are approximately 16,547 MSMEs employing more than 90,000 people. She reiterated that many of the MSMEs are back into employment including mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction, financial and insurance activities.
On Saturday the Prime Minister announced that phase two with all manufacturing, all construction activities as well as auto repairs, tyre shops, laundry and dry cleaning services were all accelerated from May 26 to May 21.
Gopee-Scoon said even before covid19 Government's health response has been very proactive.
"TT is now in a very good place where economic activity is being responsibly reintroduced and this has been based on the advice of our public health officials. It has been based on public health science."
She said her ministry has taken a very collaborative approach with the private sector throughout the past three months and has had direct collaboration with TT Manufacturers' Association and various chambers of commerce.