While he understands the grief and inconvenience faced by Alan Predy, who was barred from entering Trinidad and Tobago to attend his mother's funeral, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said the health of this country's citizens was his top priority.
Earlier this week it was reported that Predy, a Canadian citizen, was denied entry because he had received a combination of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which was not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and therefore not approved for entry into TT.
At this time the only two vaccine mixtures approved by the WHO are AstraZeneca and Pfizer or AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Responding to Predy's complaints at a media conference at the Ministry of National Security, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain, on Friday, Hinds said the government's policy on the entry of unvaccinated people entering TT, and which vaccine mixtures were approved, were clear and stood by the regulations.
He said the protocols, which were available on the Ministry of National Security's website as well as the travel pass process, were there to protect TT's citizens from infection.
"It was most unfortunate. I understand the implications for him as an individual – it's his mother. I understand all of the emotional content. I understand there are some who might think there are humanitarian concerns.
"But I think the greatest humanitarian concern was for 1.4 million human beings in TT, not just one – all of us.
"I am satisfied that reasonable international notice has been given, apart from the fact that it is well known that all countries have taken some level of action to protect (themselves).
"Had he been a national, he would have been allowed entry after quarantine at his own expense, but we have said from the get-go, it is there for the world to see, that as a non-national you are not permitted to come into the borders of TT if you are unvaccinated, and vaccinated means having your two shots, and after your two shots, 14 days would have passed, and then you are allowed to enter."
To enter TT one must apply for a travel pass which requires a person's vaccine information and the results of a PCR test no older than 72 hours at the time of their flight.
Hinds reminded the public that submitting false information was punishable with a $350,000 fine or two years' imprisonment. He said for Predy to receive a travel pass, he would have had to enter information which deemed him suitable for entry.
Asked if Predy would face any penalty for trying to enter the country with that mixture, Hinds said, "I don't wish to personalise this in respect of anyone.
"Mr Predy was here; he has gone.
"It is rather unfortunate, as I did say, but if someone makes false declarations, as I did say, the sentence, the fine is available to the court once they are found guilty, and it's up to the police to prosecute those matters in the courts."