National Security Minister Stuart Young said his ministry would provide support to the Health Ministry for quarantine and contact tracing, as well as help health officials to enforce health regulations and protocols.
Speaking at the Health Ministry’s virtual covid19 press conference he said the police would enforce regulations “written in black and white” such as bars and restaurants must be closed by 10 pm, no gathering in public spaces over 25 people, and no or parties. He said this did not include recommendations by the Ministry of Health such as the wearing of masks.
“There was a certain amount of flexibility being given before as we eased back on persons but I’m putting the population on notice now, the TTPS will be enforcing the current health protocols and regulations starting with the no gathering of more than 25 persons in public places.”
The regulation also applied to election campaigning. He said police would ask crowds to disperse to either go home, or break up into smaller, socially distanced groups. Those who refused could be arrested, fined $50,000 and imprisoned for up to six months.
Young also asked anyone with information on the entry and circulation of illegal immigrants in TT to call the police at 555.
On Wednesday, 33 Venezuelans were detained by South-Western and Tobago Division police. In Erin, the South-Western Task Force went to Los Iros beach where they arrested 15 people hiding in the bushes after they were seen disembarking from a vessel. A group of 18 was arrested at guesthouses at Gaskin Bay Road, Bon Accord and Alfred Crescent, Bon Accord.
He said local people, including the boatmen, vehicle drivers, and landlords, were part of the importation and facilitation of trafficking illegal immigrants. Even businessmen who allow people to disembark from ships carrying cargo and food items without permission, could be charged and their licenses revoked.
“The Police Service is going to be investigating these instances and charging persons for it...The police are going to be launching operations. We have picked up a number of Trinidadians via intercept on boats bringing across Venezuelans who are illegal immigrants, and they are going to be charged.”
He said illegal immigrants, not only Venezuelans, entering TT at beaches across the country. He could only assume the illegal immigrants were having contact with locals because locals were involved and were therefore putting the population at risk.
“This is no longer only about illegal activity, which is something we’re constantly fighting. All of the local persons, including the landlords who want to profit from harbouring illegal immigrants, they are all putting us, the rest of the population, at risk from the spread of covid and other viruses and related health problems.”
Asked about recent covid19 cases being linked to the trafficking of illegal immigrants, he said he could not yet say anything about that as the Ministry of Health team was still in the process of conducting contact tracing. He said if illegal immigrants were involved then the population would be told.
He also warned legal Venezuelans in TT, if they were found to be engaged in any criminal activity, including harboring illegal immigrants, their cards would be revoked and they would be deported.
Young said he was advised by the Chief Immigration Officer to declare that any non-national who entered TT illegally was an undesirable and subject to deportation.
He said the TTPS had recently intercepted illegal immigrants at sea and on land. They were taken to quarantine facilities and arrangements were being made with Venezuela to deport them.