Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley today announced the resumption of in-house dining at restaurants and cinemas (within certain guidelines), lengthened church services to 90 minutes, and permitted a return to team sport for international outfits.
Restaurants must not exceed 50 percent capacity with no more than 10 persons per group, while patrons at cinemas are asked to keep masks on except when eating.
The relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions were rewards for slow but steady decrease in infections, as Dr Avery Hinds, technical director of the Epidemiology Division, revealed an average of 20 new cases per day over the last week.
It was roughly half the average reported a month ago.
However, Dr Hinds noted that, with a two week gap since the government’s last relaxation of restrictions, the Ministry of Health only now expects to see the consequences of recent measures—such as the opening of beaches and allowing tertiary level students to return to school for lab work.
Hinds described the mood within the ministry as ‘cautious’.
“We are hoping the public has been adhering to the guidelines,” said Hinds, “[…] and the application of those behaviours will blunt any possible rise in cases.”
The Ministry of Health reported 40 new infections today while there are 600 active cases of the novel coronavirus in the country at present with 41 persons in hospital, 32 in step-down facilities and the remainder in home isolation.
Rowley again attempted to advance cautiously.
He announced no change to the education system or the recreation and entertainment industries while public groups remain at 10. ‘Casual sport’ remains forbidden with only international teams allowed to train with a maximum of 10 support staff and/or parents present.
Restaurants are not allowed to serve alcohol, out of concern for adherence to Covid-19 restrictions when intoxicated. The hunting season remains closed, although hunters can exercise their dogs.
The prime minister urged the industries still on ice to exercise patience while he chided critics who insist that the economy be opened up straight away.
“[Our goal is to] stay alive and stay healthy—everything else is secondary,” said Rowley. “That is the policy of the Trinidad and Tobago government.”
Rowley said he is targeting a January re-opening of schools, even if with ‘blended’ curriculums.
“I’m hoping that if we stay the course and we get the result that the science and data tell us we can get,” said Rowley, “[….] that we could be in a situation in January to have our children out to school—whether for one day or two days a week, or more.”