Trick or treat?
The Prime Minster announced on Saturday that he is hoping that by the time Halloween (October 31) comes around, the covid19 numbers would have reduced significantly to allow celebrants to partake in the festivities without restrictions.
Addressing the country at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on the latest government measures, Dr Rowley said Halloween is the first of three activities he hopes to see happen with more freedom of movement. The others are Divali and Christmas.
On Saturday, Rowley increased the number of people who can gather in public from five to 10 and allowed tour operators a Buccoo Reef in Tobago and Caroni Bird Sanctuary in Trinidad to resume operations. Funerals have increased from 10 to 20 people. The country will get another update on October 24. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said if the numbers don't decrease daily, the country faced one covid19 death a day.
“We have Halloween where people gather to party and children get out in groups to have public activities. We want to make sure we are aware what is happening there and parents and children in communities are to be aware that these activities may need to be closely supervised and determined in such a way that it don’t add to any threat we are facing and they do not reverse any gains we have made,” Rowley said.
He added the reason the government was working to reduce the numbers of positive cases was to ensure TT can enjoy Christmas, Divali and Halloween.
“The worst Christmas we can possibly have, is one where we will be overrun by covid. We are hoping that sacrifice we are making now will put us in a position where we will very cautiously acknowledge these three events without allowing these events to become seasons of spikes and turnarounds.”
Rowley said he hoped that by the time of Divali, which is tentatively set for November 14, the levels of infection will be so low that the risk will allow some kind of participation, “but not participation that exposes us to a turnaround.”
As Christmas approaches, the PM said as long as the borders remained closed there will be a stream of people who want to to come home, pressuring the current exemption system.
“Imagine this system coming down to Christmas?” he asked.
He said now is “not all smooth sailing” as one of the outcomes of pandemic management was the closing of the borders and the careful selection of those re-entering TT.
National Security Minister Stuart Young said there are some 7,100 pending applications with 5,284 exemptions already granted. Rowley later pointed out that there are some 330,000 nationals abroad with 250,000 in the US and another 75,000 in the UK.
It is the hoped that by Christmas repatriation will be swifter and the numbers low enough to allow for scheduled flights.