Trinidad-Tobago Prime Minister announces phased reopening of economy

Keith Rowley

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad —  The Trinidad and Tobago government  announced on Saturday a phased reopening of the country following the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but maintained that the borders would remain closed at least until June.

Health authorities said that Trinidad has recorded 116 cases of the virus with eight deaths.

The first of the three phases of the reopening will run from May 10 to May 23, the second from May 24 to June 6 and the third from June 7 to June 20.

Prime Minister Keith Rowley told  a news conference that  during the first phase, food establishments, restaurants and street vendors, among others, will be allowed to open their businesses, but there would be no in-service dining and no congregation of more than five people.

He said people would be allowed to engage in outdoor exercises while observing the measures implemented to prevent the virus from spreading.

Hardware stores, pharmacies and supermarkets would be allowed to operate within a 12- hour period and that the green light had been given to three companies involved in exporting products such as cement, to operate.

Rowley said during the second phase, the whole manufacturing sector would be reopened, as well as public sector construction work  and  public transport will be  allowed  to carry 50 per cent capacity.

Rowley said during the third phase, all public servants will ” come out to work” even though  the authorities may consider alternative days for employees to turn up for work.

Also during the third phase, public transport capacity would be increased to 75 per cent  though progress going forward would be based on the country returning  to a state of normalcy.

Prime Minister Rowley said schools would remain closed until September.

He also told  reporters that citizens must not put down their guard and must continue to follow the measures earlier announced, including social distancing, wearing of masks and in some respect continue the stay at home policy.