Chief Secretary: Beaches may reopen if 70% vaccinated

A lively game of football is played at Mt Irvine Beach earlier this year. FILE PHOTO/DAVID REID  -
A lively game of football is played at Mt Irvine Beach earlier this year. FILE PHOTO/DAVID REID -

Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis said beaches may reopen if 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated.

However, he declined to clarify whether this was specific to Tobago or nationally.

Dennis was speaking on Tuesday at a press conference to announce a $500 million Marriott hotel and property development in Tobago.

Dennis said, "I want to speak to vaccination a bit, I know it's not necessarily a popular topic. But if we can get to a point of vaccinating maybe 70 per cent of the population, there might a be a possibility to enjoy the reopening of the beaches and a return of more meaningful domestic tourism."

Dennis said this would augur well for the tourism sector which has been badly hit by the pandemic.

"I'm sure the hoteliers would tell you that during the period where we enjoyed some domestic activity, it definitely allowed them to breathe a little in the midst of this pandemic."

Asked whether the 70 per cent target was made after consultation with the Prime Minister, Dennis said, "I won't disclose the conversations I have with the Prime Minister...

"Obviously when we move through this period and set ourselves new targets, it will be based on the safety issues."

Dennis hinted that the reopening of beaches could be linked to the vaccinated safe zones discussed by Dr Rowley on September 3.

Dennis said, "I think the commitment was given that depending on the situation by next month, we should be moving into having safe zones where bars, restaurants would be open for vaccinated persons. The info available to me is that vaccination is the best way to having more business activity. I am simply saying, if you want the beaches to reopen, vaccination would be the way to get to that point. February 2022 soon come and maybe you have to vaccinate to gyrate when that time comes."

The Buccoo/Mt Pleasant electoral representative said the government will do its part to help hoteliers through the difficult period.

"They are expected to, of course, make serious and concerted efforts to survive, to be innovative despite the challenges.

"The general population, we must understand to return to some semblance of normalcy it depends on the safety that is guaranteed in doing so. And based on the information available to me, that safety can only be guaranteed through vaccination."

The Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development reported on Tuesday that 20,315 people in Tobago have been partially vaccinated while 16,809 people are fully vaccinated. Tobago's adult population is around 51,000.


"Chief Secretary: Beaches may reopen if 70% vaccinated"

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