Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said there are still ‘monsters’ around us, when asked to comment on the rape and murder of 18-year-old Ashanti Riley, who was abducted sometime after she left home in a ‘PH’ taxi on Sunday 29 November.
Rowley noted too, at a press conference this afternoon, that taxi drivers need a certificate of good character to operate, while the ‘PH’ system allows less savoury characters to transport potentially vulnerable passengers.
“[There is a] danger of every Tom, Dick and Harry being allowed to manage a vehicle and then you end up with this as an outcome,” said Rowley.
However, the prime minister did not suggest anything new when asked what women should do when travelling late at night, with only ‘PH’ drivers operating.
“Given the practicalities of the situation, we have to be always cognisant of our personal safety,” said Rowley. “[…] Just be careful.”
The prime minister also set a target of 8 February 2021 for a return to the physical school ground for standard five students as well as students in forms four to six.
Trinidad and Tobago’s students have generally been restricted to online learning since March, with the exception of exams for standard five, form five and upper six students as well as for the preparation of SEA students.
The new school term will begin virtually on 4 January 2021. But, should the infection rate remain at a ‘manageable’ level, the government is ready to begin a partial return to the physical classroom. Students returning to school will be masked and Rowley promised ‘intensive sanitising and intensive sanitisation’.
There should also be a ‘roving school district safety team’ set up by the County Medical Health Offices and managed by the Ministry of Education, which will go from school to school to ensure that the relevant safety protocols are followed.
The Ministry of Health revealed that there were 16 new cases of Covid-19 today—five of which are from Tobago. There are 772 active cases of the novel coronavirus at present with 42 hospitalised, 642 in home self-isolation, 214 in state quarantine facilities and 22 in step-down facilities.
From the persons in self-isolation, 186 are in the care of the prison system.
The government announced that supermarkets will be allowed to operate for 24 hours during the Christmas season, from 10 December to 3 January—with the usual Covid-19 protocols.
However, Rowley warned that most of the persons who wish to return home for Christmas would be unable to do so. There are over 15,000 applications for travel exemptions from nationals, according to Minister of National Security Stuart Young, with 1,549 new requests within the last two weeks alone.
Were the government to try to please everyone, Rowley said, we might as well re-open the borders; and that is not an option.
He again urged citizens to be mindful of how their behaviour can contribute to the spread of the virus.
“Whatever happens to us—good, bad, or worse—will be down to the personal behaviour of the population,” he said.