The head office of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce in West Moorings, Trinidad.

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce has called for a curfew to be implemented to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

It has also advised on an extension of the current lockdown by an extra week.

The following is a statement by the Chamber:

The T&T Chamber held an emergency Board meeting based on the escalation in cases and pressure on our health care system.

The Chamber has received a number of calls from members and as representatives of the business community, we wanted to ensure we properly articulated their views.

Based on the feedback received, it appears the factors contributing to the exponential increase in numbers are due, in part to:

a. Points of contact where many people are A-symptomatic

b. Lack of adherence to protocols by members of the public

c. Increased rate of spread perhaps due to new variant We subsequently polled our members for their input and suggestions.

While most businesses are compliant and provide a safe environment for their staff and consumers, the majority who responded to our survey, have called for stricter enforcement of whatever guidelines are implemented; the greatest concern is social engagement and unnecessary movement of individuals.

We are therefore making the following recommendations with the prime objective: to immediately reduce spread.

1) We recognize that it takes two weeks to see the impact of the actions taken. We therefore recommend as an interim step to extend the lockdown for another week to evaluate the impact of the actions taken. 85% of those surveyed agreed an extension is needed.

2) Implement a limited curfew from 9PM – 5AM on weekdays, and 5pm – 5am on weekends to reduce casual movement of individuals. Only people who work in industrial operations, which need to operate on a shift basis, should be allowed movement during the curfew period with a letter from their employer. Inter-island transport will have to be considered and allowances made. 90% of those surveyed agreed a limited curfew is needed.

3) Further reduce crowd density in all essential businesses; as well as ensure proper crowd control at the entrances to these businesses. 79% of member respondents agreed with this statement.

4) Review the businesses that are considered essential and open only those that are absolutely necessary for the needs of the citizens, (eg essential repairs). 65% of member respondents agreed that a review is necessary.

5) Where possible we recommend the utilization of curbside and delivery service options to reduce the interaction and movement of individuals. 92% of those surveyed agreed with this option.

6) Additional efforts need to be taken by business to facilitate work from home.

7) As additional vaccines are received the priority should include persons who are working in the essential businesses to keep them safe. 80% of those surveyed have shown equal concern for lives and livelihoods.

We recognize some businesses have made the decision to temporarily close their “essential” services to reduce the risk of spread.

This action is commended however, we have to ensure our citizens have access to essential services. No One is Safe until Everyone is Safe