Trinidad and Tobago will temporarily close its borders to non-nationals for 14 days.
Prime Minister Keith Rowley made the announcement during a Post Cabinet media briefing on Monday (March 16). The measure will go into effect at midnight Tuesday.
“We are working to protect your health, family, jobs, economy and the country and have been engaged in seeking to exclude the virus from our country,” PM Rowley said. “We have to isolate ourselves from the source of the virus that is outside of our country.”
Rowley also indicated that there are currently 75 nationals outside of Trinidad and Tobago trying to make their way back home. He indicated that only Caribbean Airlines will be operational to fly nationals back to the country. Exemptions will be granted in certain circumstances (for example, members of CARPHA). Cargo ships will be allowed to dock but crews will be restricted from disembarking.
The Prime Minister stated that the government will approach banks to defer loan payments and credit card interest payments for persons unable to meet their financial obligations. In anticipation of the financial fallout, the nation’s Heritage and Stabilisation Fund will have to be accessed to help sustain the economy almost immediately.
He also said that a number of Cabinet Sub Committees will be established which will focus on education, finance and the social impact of COVID-19. Rowley has also extended the closure of schools until April 20. He indicated that a decision will have to be made on writing the Secondary Entrance Assessment (S.E.A) which is set for April 2.
In further efforts to minimise social gatherings, he also announced that all bars will close for 14 days. Restaurants will remain open but only to facilitate curbside pickup.
At the briefing, Thoracic Medical Director at Caura Hospital Michelle Trotman provided an update on the four COVID-19 cases. She confirmed that the most critical case: has been consistently improving and the other three are all mild and doing well.