PM announces all public servants return to work as normal; all students return to school……other restrictions lifted

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As we move toward a COVID-19 endemic, the government has climbed down from its decision of a public sector vaccine policy. In the House of Representatives on Friday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that all public servants are to return to work as normal from Monday.

The Prime Minister said that drastic measures are no longer required.

“Given the surprisingly good result and the behaviour of omicron that we have placed a hold on drastic measures and that circumstances have changed drastically between mid-December and March.”

Recognizing that T&T and by extension the world, is moving from “pandemic to endemic” and living with the virus, Dr Rowley announced a slew of other restrictions which have been lifted.

According to the Prime Minister, provided that we do not have dangerous changes in our COVID-19 position, “We will permit all children to return to physical schooling in term three. The Ministry of Education will put out the necessary guidelines to safely manage this process.”

And with the recent flouting of public health protocols at carnival events, and many questioning the effectiveness of mask-wearing, Dr Rowley noted the importance of the retention of masking. Therefore, he said, mask use will remain in force in all public spaces and places where there is public interaction.

In addition to this, public transport will be allowed to return to 100% of capacity but mask-wearing will continue to be required in vehicles being used for public transport, including vehicles in which persons are paying to be transported. He said that families will no longer be required to be masked in their vehicles.

Restrictions have also been removed with respect to the length of time and numerical capacity at religious places of worship as well as graveside funeral services, but mask-wearing is required.

Addressing quarantine times, he said, “For unvaccinated nationals returning to Trinidad and Tobago, a reduction in the quarantine time would be applicable. Quarantine time will be reduced from 14 to 7 days, with discharge taking place on the receipt of a negative PCR test on the 7th day.”

“We will decrease the national quarantine time (for contacts of positive cases) from 14 to 10 days. This would allow for increased productivity and a decrease in the likelihood of staffing shortages, especially amongst the essential services.”

He also announced that public gatherings of persons in groups of no more than 25 is now to be permissible as well as the recommencement of team sports and contact sports is allowed.

Safe zones are now allowed to operate at 75% capacity.

These highly anticipated adjustments, the Prime Minister said, will continue as long as individual responsibility is practised and there are no changes with regard to COVID-19.