NATIONAL Security Minister Stuart Young has given in to the appeal of over 400 Trinidad and Tobago citizens on board different cruises ships who want to come home.
A short while ago, Young gave permission for nationals who have been stuck on cruise ships for seven weeks, to enter the country. However, it will not be done immediately.
In a statement issued on Friday, Young said a schedule would be established to manage their return, consistent with government’s resources, to protect them and the population. Young also made a statement in Parliament to that effect on Friday afternoon.
Young said discussions were taking place with the Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and others on how the return of the cruise-ship contingent could be scheduled.
The statement came while 49 Trinidadians on board the Disney Princess, which is currently being refuelled on an oil rig 12 miles off Trinidad's north coast, made further appeals to government to open the borders and let them in.
In his statement, Young said it had come to government's attention, “that there may be nationals of TT in different numbers, on various cruise ships, in different locations, throughout the Caribbean and elsewhere.
“Previously, the official request for exemptions for entry by our nationals on cruise ships, had been provided to the Government by agents of the cruise ship companies, as a collective, with the total request exceeding 430 nationals.
“We have not been provided with breakdowns per cruise ship and the particulars of where these various cruise ships are located.”
“We have been making attempts to locate, for example, six nationals on one cruise ship said to be nearby. This task has been challenging as we do not have individual applications from these six but rather, we have a blanket application for 430.”
He noted that government has been managing the public health care system and balancing the entry of nationals based, in great measure, on the capacity of the system to handle covid19 cases without being overwhelmed.
“We are going to permit the entry of our nationals on these various cruise ships by establishing a schedule which allows us to manage their return, consistent with our resources, to protect them, and the population.
“We are also managing the return of close to 275 students whom the Government is working on bringing back to Trinidad and Tobago from Barbados and Jamaica.
“These nationals are only two categories of persons who have applied for exemption to enter TT. We have thousands of applications for exemptions by nationals who are all over the globe.
“The Government will continue managing the return of all of our many nationals who are scattered across the globe. We understand the difficulties each national who wants to return is facing.
“Our management of TT based on expert medical public health advice and science, has taken us this far and we will continue to carefully manage our measures to protect the population of TT.
TT has no positive covid19 cases at present.