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National Security Minister Stuart Young speaks to reporters before attending yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.

The borders will be temporarily opened once again to allow over 60 Trinidad and Tobago nationals currently stranded in Suriname to return home.

At least one member of the group, Ashmeed Syne, had applied through his attorney, Umesh Maharaj, for an exemption to allow them to return home.

Speaking at the COVID-19 news conference yesterday, National Security Minister Stuart Young said he had granted the permission to those nationals to return home. However, he said he had been approached by another company which had nationals working for them spread across Suriname. He said the exact number of people returning is therefore not yet known and will be worked out over the next 24 to 48 hours.

“I was corresponding with attorneys for 33 nationals but as I said there has been another reach out by a certain energy company that, if I remember correctly, they are also in the thirty-something range and I assume that there may be others.”

On Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the borders would remain closed until May 15, 2020.

Yesterday, Young said upon their return they will be subjected to the assessment of local medical professionals and quarantined for the mandatory 14 days.

Young also addressed the issue of private jets that entered this country over this past weekend. He said the five chartered jets arrived to pick up and take home 62 non-nationals who are employed in the energy industry and work offshore. He said no-one was allowed to disembark from the aircraft.

He explained that it was part of a very, very carefully planned operation.

“They were brought in via a marine vessel, taken straight on sanitised buses up to Piarco,” he said.

Young also rubbished reports circulating on social media regarding certain people being allowed to return to T&T via the private jets. He said those claims were mischief.

He said discussions continue with the energy companies who operate in this country to plan a way forward on transporting workers in and out of T&T for the next few months.

On another border-related issue, Young said early yesterday morning two or three nationals were picked up by local authorities returning from Venezuela. He said they were caught with “a huge amount of fish and shrimp”, adding this was in complete contravention of the COVID-19 regulations and the Customs Act.

Last week, three Icacos fishermen were also caught returning from an area near the Venezuelan border.