PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — Some businesses that have been ordered to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic could be allowed to finally reopen at the end of September, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced.
However, he stressed that the reopening is hinged on the nation’s COVID situation at the time, particularly its vaccination rates, as it first permits a reopening of churches on September 6.
“We did some discussions on the projections yesterday and what we looked at, we came to the conclusion that if the projections remain on the curves that we saw, without a worsening of the situation — that and, of course, in parallel with an aggressive program of vaccination in September — by the end of this month, four weeks from now, that we can operate certain aspects of business as safe zones where you can encourage vaccinated persons to participate in gyms, restaurant in-house dining, cinemas, casinos and hopefully bars by that time,” said the prime minister.
“So, four weeks from today, if we continue to vaccinate and increase our vaccination uptake…that is what we are going to be doing with respect to adjustments and planning for the immediate weeks ahead of us.”
The initial reopening will be limited to vaccinated proprietors and patrons only, Rowley said, and while sporting events and Carnival remain off the table for now, the government will reassess the situation two weeks after the reopening to determine whether even more businesses will be allowed to come back on stream.
The prime minister also responded to criticism from the business community and those who had been pushing for businesses to reopen sooner, asserting that had the government given in to those demands, the COVID situation would have been worse.
“What we have been doing is, one, being very cautious, moving with the expectation that we don’t do anything to reverse the gains that we’ve made and we keep accreting gains. So, we are not going to do anything knowingly which has a high risk of reversing what we’ve done,” said Rowley.
“If by the end of the month the situation in the country is such that we should not, in the context of this cautious approach, we should not go further in opening up, then we don’t; and, God willing, if there is no reversal to a spike and an explosion, then of course we will cautiously accrete more of the opening.”