T&T border reopens free to fly from July 17

Keith Rowley

The borders of T&T are set to reopen on July 17. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicated last Saturday at the COVID-19 update at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. Rowley said that the borders would be open to both vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens. The country would also allow entry to vaccinated non-nationals, but unvaccinated non-nationals are not going to be allowed in the country at this time.

The borders have been shut, except through authorised travel exemptions, for more than a year.

This news now spells relief to the thousands left stranded since the border closure last March. For over a year nationals have been utilising the exemption process to get home and either staying in state quarantine facilities or paying to stay at selected hotels for 14 days.

In that time, citizens have been clamouring to return home. Last year July, Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar famously compared the protracted lockout to slavery and indentureship, saying then that Rowley had made citizens nationless.

There have been successive updates about the number of locals stranded abroad since March but the Government relaxed the restrictions somewhat for the Christmas period last year and by December some 17,211 people made exemption requests to enter T&T. Of that figure, there were 9,557 exemptions granted, leaving more than 7,654 people, residents and non-residents, still outside, as T&T’s borders remained closed at that time

“This is a major development at a time,” Rowley said.

Rowley said the Government’s open borders would recognise three categories of people: vaccinated nationals of T&T, unvaccinated citizens of T&T, and other unvaccinated people.

“Vaccinated citizens of T&T with a negative PCR test, 72 hours or less, would be allowed to come in and go home,” he said.

A person who is not vaccinated and wished to enter the country, must go into state-supervised quarantine for 14 days and must be able to show a negative PCR test.

Unvaccinated children coming in with vaccinated parents would be allowed to go home without any quarantine.

“Non-nationals of T&T who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 would not at this time be allowed to enter T&T,” Rowley said. The vaccines must be approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and they are free to enter the country two weeks after their second shot.

Quarantine breakers, he said, would be fined.