Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaking at a press conference at the Scarborough Library Facility, Tobago.

All citizens anxious to visit their favourite wateringholes or those yearning for that curry duck lime by the river with friends will be able to do so from Monday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced that all bars, gyms and beaches will reopen Monday. However, all businesses must close at 10 pm.

He made this announcement during a COVID-19 press conference at the Scarborough Library Facility, Tobago, Saturday as he announced the fifth phase of the Government’s reopening plan after it began shutting down the country in March to prevent the spread of the virus.

The PM announced that T&T’s “numbers are holding well” but that the “country remains exposed to the rigours of the virus.”

Among the other measures he announced was the full reopening of the public service. In-house dining will resume at restaurants. Cinemas, bars, casinos and member’s clubs will reopen from tomorrow as well. Beaches, rivers, amusement parks gyms and the zoo will also be open to the public from Monday.

Malls will also be allowed to fully reopen including food courts. Team sports will resume but with no spectators, and public transportation including the inter-island ferry service will revert to 100 per cent capacity.

Educational institutes will be allowed to reopen for examinations.

He also said there can be any number of people at weddings and funerals as long as attendees observe all protocols and guidelines established for places of worship. Places of worship will no longer have to be restricted to one-hour services as regular service times can resume, but worshippers must also continue to practice social distancing and follow the requisite guidelines.

Other public gatherings must not exceed 25 people.

County Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram gave an overview of the guidelines. “We are asking that any congregation stick to a maximum of 25 persons in a public space which included beaches and rivers. Please conform to hand washing and sanitisation guidelines and the wearing of face masks where applicable,” he said. Before now only ten people could gather in public spaces.

The CMO also warned that gym owners and operators should also ensure that surfaces in shared areas be sanitised on a regular basis.

Bad news for partygoers, however. The Prime Minister said “party boats and clubbing…because you by your very nature are not going to be able to conform to the protocols required, these activities are not permitted.”

The country’s borders will remain closed at this time with exemptions being granted to nationals wishing to return home. However, Dr Rowley said that priority would be given to “people that left temporarily to work abroad or receive medical treatment,” people who regularly reside in T&T.

According to Dr Rowley, although the financial cost of maintening the day-to-day operations at Caribbean Airlines is being done at a loss to taxpayers, it must be done “due to the level of risk and the unacceptable economics of going in one direction.” He said operations would resume at soon as possible in the first instance conducting semi-charters to move people in and out of the country, when there is no longer a public health risk.