National Security Minister Stuart Young named the essential services that will be asked to remain operational between 30 March and 15 April, as the rest of Trinidad and Tobago generally stays indoors to avoid the spread of new coronavirus Covid-19.
The essential services mentioned are:
- Judiciary, Parliament, Cabinet, THA and its relevant sub-committees;
- Government ministries and municipal corporations who will decide essential services necessary (government services will remain closed);
- Primary emergency and protective services, State and private emergency ambulances, Police Service, Defence Force, Fire Services, Immigration, SSA, private security firms, estate constables, SRPs;
- Basic services concerning provision of health, hospital, water, electricity, fire, civil aviation, funeral homes, public work facilities, prisons, Immigration detention centres;
- Children’s homes, social services homes, community residences, rehabilitation centres, places for disabled, socially displaced, elderly, geriatric, care-givers for the elderly and those who require it, live-in domestic maids;
- Removal of solid waste, services necessary for maintaining safety, sanitation and essential operations of personal residents including plumbers, electricians and exterminators;
- Financial services including banking and other institutions under Financial Institutions Act and all support services to financial institutions, Inland Revenue Division, Treasury, Central Bank, Customs and Excise;
- Convenience stores, corner shops, discount stores, supermarkets, groceries, pharmacies, hardware, retail selling food and beverage;
- Restaurants that offer take-away but no in-house dining;
- Services related to food production, agriculture, fisheries and feed production;
- Port operations, truck drivers providing delivery services, postal operations;
- Manufacturers and distribution of food, beverages, pharmaceuticals;
- Automated repair and maintenance facilities who provide direct support to essential services only, companies that handle repair of aircraft, movement of cargo and passengers, aviation and airport operations, loading and unloading repair of ships and storage and delivery of goods off ports;
- Public transportation of water taxis, motor vehicles and buses
- Media companies and workers supporting newspapers, radio, television and online services;
- Energy services, oil and gas industries, gas stations;
- Persons responsible for lighting, furnaces and kilns in manufacturing operations;
- Hotels guest houses, Seismic Research Unit at UWI;
- Only construction sites and workers specifically engaged in health care facilities.
Although Young noted that makeshift food stalls will be permitted to continue, the Port of Spain City Corporation has suspended vending on Charlotte Street from 8pm on Saturday 28 March until further notice.
The government should publish a more extensive list later today and this story will be amended to reflect as much. Persons can still contact the Ministry of Health to make recommendations to amend the list—whether to add or subtract services—although changes can only be made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley or Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, in consultation with the National Security minister.
Young stressed that only ‘essential employees for the essential businesses should be out’ from Monday and advised such persons to walk with identification and be prepared to state their business to law enforcement officers, who will operate in tandem with members of the Defence Force.
Businesses allowed to remain operational were advised to offer authorisation letters to its essential staff.
Members of the public can still leave their homes to get food, medicine, etc but can be asked to explain their whereabouts. Should citizens fail to convince lawmen of the purpose outside of their homes, they can be charged under the Quarantine Act and be liable to a fine of up to TT$50,000 and six months in jail.
All licensed vehicles, whether private or public transport, will only be allowed to operate at 50 per cent.
“We are doing a lot more […] than certain developed countries around the world,” said Young.
Deyalsingh said the Health Ministry has ramped up its capacity to 494 beds at present and should have more on-stream soon at the Point Fortin Hospital. The healthcare system had already contacted a host of consultants and retired nurses who also willing to join the effort, with some offering their services free of charge.
“This weekend is the tipping point,” said Deyalsingh. “[…] This is not a drill. It is the real thing.”