Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said covid19 "safe zone" certificates will be available for download on Thursday.
He said there is no application process or fee by an owner/operator to be registered as a Trinidad and Tobago safe zone. These are due to come into being on Monday, when businesses in the entertainment sector will reopen under certain conditions. All staff and customers must be fully vaccinated.
The certificates will be available for download, he said, from the websites of the Communications Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Health, Tourism Trinidad Ltd, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, ttconnect, IGovTT, and the Ministry of Digital Transformation.
He also said he would send certificates to the Barkeepers and Operators Association (BOATT) to disseminate among their members, and had spoken to representatives of the casino operators and food and beverage establishments.
He was speaking at Wednesday's Health Ministry virtual press conference.
“We are trying to make this as administratively easy as possible. There is no registration process. Once you display this, you are agreeing to all the terms and conditions under this safe zone concept.
“We ask that you display it prominently so both patrons, employees and inspectors can see it. This is downloadable and will be freely available.”
He reminded that restaurants, bars, common gaming houses, betting pools or offices licensed under the Gambling and Betting Act, cinemas and theatres licensed under the Cinematograph Act, private members’ clubs licensed under the Registration of Clubs Act, theatres under the Theatres and Dancehalls Act, gyms and fitness studios, and waterparks were covered under the safe zone concept.
All employees must be fully vaccinated, he said, and it was the owners/operators’ responsibility to ensure this was done. Copies of vaccination cards were to be kept on the premises at all times and be available for inspection by authorities. He said inspections would be carried out by public health officers as well as the police.
Deyalsingh said all patrons should be fully vaccinated and always have proof of vaccination and a valid photo ID on hand. He said in the case of teenagers who would not have a form of national ID, they would need to have their vaccination card on hand. Owners/operators will be trained in what to look for in terms of vaccination cards.
He said children under 12 were not being allowed into safe zones to keep them safe.
“They cannot be vaccinated right now, so choices have to be made. We don’t want to expose children to (the) delta (variant). I don’t think the country will forgive us if we allow them into a cinema or water park and then get covid19 and die. Hopefully they will not come out of their bubbles and into a setting that is dangerous.”
He said once a restaurant chooses to participate in the safe zone initiative, all patrons entering it must be vaccinated; unvaccinated patrons can be served through curbside and takeout options.
Drinking alcohol in bars and restaurants will still be forbidden.
He said by definition food courts could not be operated as safe zones.
CMO Dr Roshan Parasram said people with an authentic medical exemption or deferral certificate could also enter a safe zone, and certificates are expected to be available on Friday at local health centres and specialist clinics.
People eligible for medical deferral certificates, he explained, were those with conditions that prevented them from getting covid19 vaccines for a limited period, while people eligible for medical exemption certificates are exempted from taking all available covid19 vaccines because of contraindications and other medical conditions that require a specialist’s care.
“We are asking that those people go to their specialist clinic where you are seeking care to get certificates from the specialists involved. Only physicians in the public health sector can complete the certificates – they will not be accepted from the private sector – and they are required to affix the stamp of their medical institution and medical board registration number."
He is due to meet the enforcement agencies, including city and borough corporations, on Friday to update them on what to be aware of, he said.
Patients being treated only by a specialist in the private sector have options, he explained.
"If you go to the public system without any referral, you will possibly have to be referred to a specialist in the public system to be properly assessed and given an exemption or deferral.
"If you have a referral letter from that specialist and the medical officer who sees it is satisfied that the conditions are suitable to be granted an exemption/deferral, they can do that as well. A referral can be done from the private-sector physician to the public-sector physician: they will do their clinical exam and determine if they need further information, or they may refer the patient to a similar specialist in a public system if they need to do so.”