ONE of the last sectors to close will be one of the first to reopen as the Prime Minister seeks to balance the scale of saving lives and livelihoods, with construction set to resume work on June 28.
Speaking at the media briefing at the Prime Minister’s residence on Saturday, Dr Rowley said he hopes to restart the economy cautiously.
“In terms of coming out cautiously, the next item that we are likely to take is bringing out the construction sector. I trust by then that a significant number of construction workers would have been vaccinated.”
So far, 15,000 members of the sector have been vaccinated.
In May, Rowley shut down restaurants, bars, street food vendors, beauticians and the construction sector. He said given the increased cases, it was best to do so.
On Saturday, he said the time had come to manage the risk by opening the construction sector, along with opening the borders by the second week in July if the trend of covid19 cases continues to decline.
Rowley admitted that opening the borders and construction sector, along with its ancillary sectors like hardware and paint shops, will mean an increase in movement. The food and beverage industry will have to wait a bit longer, he said, and advised workers to eat “home food.”
The ultimate aim, he said, is to have children back out to school by September.
Regarding reopening the borders, he said officials at Caribbean Airlines (CAL) along with the accompanying ministries will update the country in the coming days.
Travellers must be vaccinated with a World Health Organisation (WHO)-approved emergency-use vaccine. The opening of the borders will not be a “free-for-all,” he said, and there will be protocols in place to treat with the vaccinated and un-vaccinated.
His major concern was the possible importation of the latest variant of the virus, the Delta variant, which he said is circulating in North America, where most of the visitors are expected to come from.
Rowley also clarified the issue of the Pfizer vaccine that came into the country last week. He said he knew it was coming, because those who brought it in asked for permission, but was unaware that it would have been brought in that soon. He dismissed suggestions that it was some deep sinister plot to hide information from the country.
He said from next weekend, the curfew hours will be from 7 pm-5 am and thereafter from 9 pm-5 am for the month of July. The same hours will apply during the week.
In response to the PM’s reopening of the economy, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar called for non-essential workers to be able to earn a living.
In a statement she said: “The Opposition reiterates our call for non-essential workers to be given opportunities to earn an income, pay their water and electricity bills, loan instalments, rents, mortgages, and grocery bills.”