THE removal of the covid19 Travel Pass system is encouraging news for the tourism, cultural and arts sector, Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell said on Friday.
At the virtual health news conference on Wednesday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced the removal of the Travel Pass from June 1.Until now anyone entering TT had to download the Travel Pass from online, fill it out, upload it again along with other documents and then download an approved Travel Pass to enter the country.
"What this means is that unvaxxed national and non-nationals can enter TT, so you don’t have to prove your vaccination status.
"However, you do have to provide either a negative PCR or antigen test (taken) 48 hours prior to entry.”
Deyalsingh said people travelling into the country without a negative test will be put in state quarantine at their cost. During quarantine, he explained, a negative PCR or antigen can be presented at any time as a condition of release.
Other health restrictions such as mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing remain in effect.
Speaking after an event at the National Energy Skills Centre auditorium in Couva, Mitchell said, "Of course the Travel Pass was important during the pandemic to ensure we knew who was coming in and we knew that the persons who were coming in knew the types of laws, types of restrictions they had to abide by prior to entry."
Mitchell was extremely excited and happy about the Travel Pass's removal and believed other tourism, culture and arts stakeholders felt the same. He supported Deyalsingh's statements about other covid19 measures remaining in place to screen visitors to Trinidad and Tobago.
"Those are there for our protection."
Will the the lifting of the Travel Pass encourage more people to come to TT for events such as the proposed Tobago Carnival in October?
Mitchell said," I would agree that there is a nexus. There are persons who simply don't want to have the hassle whenever there is some barrier to entry."
They may be more willing now to come to Tobago in October for its Carnival and "into our country as visitors."
Looking ahead to Carnival 2023, Mitchell said preparation are under way.
"We expect to have Carnival next year, barring any unforeseen serious (covid19) spikes or any other kinds of pandemics occurring."
Will this be a pre-pandemic style Carnival or a limited version, as was held this year? Mitchell said, "We are hoping to have an open Carnival."
A final decision will be made at the appropriate time.
Mitchell was also hopeful that a matter involving complaints about noise from a fete at the Brian Lara Stadium had been resolved. Residents want to enjoy peace and quiet in the privacy of their properties. But event promoters depend on those kinds of fetes for their livelihoods.
Mitchell said, "I do hope it was resolved. I do think there are mitigating factors that can be employed to ensure that both parties are satisfied."
He hoped the promoters would adhere to the sound guidelines provided by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).
"Once those things are done. I believe we can successfully live together and thrive."