The Trinidad and Tobago government will amend its public health ordinance today to reduce congregations from 10 to five.
National Security Minister Stuart Young made the announcement at this morning’s virtual press conference. The adjustment will be signed off by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh today.
“Persons shall not without reasonable justification gather in any public place where the number of people gathered at any time exceeds five,” said Young. “We are reducing the number from 10 [to] five.”
In the scenario of queues outside of banks or supermarkets, Young advised persons to use social distancing but suggested that the regulation would be unenforceable in that setting.
After consultation with the Ministry of Works and Transport, Young also revealed that the T&T Spirit has been taken off the sea bridge while the Galleons Passage and Jean de la Vallette ferries will make one trip per day, as they discourage frequent movement between the islands. The Cabo Star cargo vessel will operate as normal.
Young did not offer any relief for commuters who, in some areas, are being asked to pay inflated fares by taxi drivers, who have passed on their loss of revenue due to a government restriction on the number of passengers they can carry.
The public health ordinance orders vehicles to operate at 50 per cent capacity. Young said the price hike was not illegal.
“It is up to the travelling public [whether or not they pay it],” said Young. “If you have to travel unfortunately this is one of the consequences… Stay home.”
Young was not asked nor did he acknowledge the hundreds of persons employed in the ‘essential services’ who do not own vehicles and must now spend twice as much to travel to work for the benefit of the rest of the country.
Deyalsingh reiterated the government’s position that it will not test asymptomatic persons since: “you will get a false negative test which is dangerous because then you may think ‘I am negative’, then you continue interacting with persons and spread the virus more…”
The Health Minister and National Security Minister said the government’s response to the virus will remain fluid and guided by healthcare professionals, as they declined to say what their next step would be or when restrictions will be lifted.
“In any war, there must be an exit strategy but it is too soon to talk about it now,” said Deyalsingh. “If we start to talk about that the population may be lured into a sense that this thing is coming to an end [and] go back to normal [behaviour]…
“We want to keep the pressure on; we want to keep a lid on this thing. The only message that we need to push is this message: stay home.”
At present, Trinidad and Tobago has 85 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with three deaths and one discharged patient.