PM announces a new round of COVID-19 restrictions

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    Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the past few days, the Prime Minister has announced a new round of restrictions in order to fight the spread of the virus.

    He says as of Monday August 17th, 2020: 

    • All in house dining at restaurants, bars and food courts are to cease. There is to be no consumption of food/drink in these places.
    • Beaches and Rivers will close to the public.
    • Places of worship and gyms are will also be closed.
    • All contact sports will be ceased
    • Water Parks will be closed.
    • Casino and Members Clubs, as well as Cinemas will be closed.
    • The authorized gathering of persons outside of the home cannot exceed 5 persons.
    • Weddings, Funerals and similar type of events can have no more than 10 persons.
    • Maxi Taxis and Taxis can operate at 50 per cent capacity.
    • There will be a reduction in availability in the travel to Tobago, via air and sea.

    All teaching institutions will remain closed until this phase of COVID spread is over and the PM says it appears as though it may remain closed until December 31st.

    Groceries and Supermarkets as well as Hairdressers and Barbers are unaffected by the new measures at this time.

    Dr. Rowley says in 48 hours they will announce what action will be taken for mandatory use of face masks, and what action could be taken if persons refuse to wear a mask in public as the time for persuasion has now passed.

    The PM asked persons to stay at home, as far as they are able to although work will continue across the country. Public Service workers will continue on a 50 per cent rotation.

    Regarding financial grants to persons who may be affected financially by the latest COVID restrictions, he says the Government will make assistance available as far as they are able to, but he does not want persons rushing on Monday to make applications.

    The CPL tournament is still on as the people involved have been operating in a “bubble”, and not interacting with the public.

    Nat Sec. Minister Stuart Young says repatriation of nationals from abroad has been scaled back a bit to free up quarantine areas for local COVID positive cases, so no system is overwhelmed.

    Meanwhile, CMO Dr. Roshan Parasram says he has made a recommendation to PAHO to inform the WHO that T&T should be listed as having community spread.

    Head of the Epidemiology Unit at the Ministry Dr. Avery Hinds says there has been an increasing number of persons turning up for community surveillance testing in the last week and a half to two weeks, who do are not linked to any positive cases. These have led to an increase in cases, where the origin of the cases is being investigated.

    He says the country is entering an accelerated phase of COVID transmission, and health officials are trying to guard against having a rapid number of infections in the population.

    Dr. Hinds says the population needs to follow the guidelines that have been issued by the Health Ministry, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, the washing of hands, refraining from gathering in large numbers, refraining from going to work when sick, etc.

    He says this is needed to slow the natural progression of the virus in the coming weeks.

    The Health Minister says there are adequate test kits for COVID at this time, with over 20,300 kits, in addition to ones kept at CARPHA for the region. Minister Deyalsingh added that more kits are coming in on a weekly basis.