by Sampson Nanton

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced new restrictions that will last for at least 28 days as the country continues to face the rise in coronavirus cases.

It comes on a day in which the Ministry of Health announced 48 new cases from batch testing, taking the number of positive cases in T&T since the start of the virus, to 474. Ten people have died.

Beginning Monday morning, all in-house dining in restaurants and bars will cease, including at food courts and malls. This will include the precincts of those establishments.

Take-away services, however, will be allowed to continue.

Beaches and rivers will close.

All places of worship will also close.

All gyms will close.

All contact sports will cease.

Waterparks will close.

Casinos and members clubs will remain closed.

Cinemas will be closed.

Authorised gatherings of people outside of homes will not be more than 5 people.

Weddings, funerals, christenings and so on will be allowed with no more than 10 people.

Maxis and taxis will operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Air and sea-bridge transportation to and from Tobago will be restricted to essential people.

All teaching institutions will remain closed until this phase is over. The prime minister said it appears at this stage the Government will likely have to shut down schools for the rest of the year.

SEA examinations will continue on August 20 but students must not congregate.

Barbershops and hairdressing salons will be allowed to stay open once COVID guidelines are complied with. He said this is an area in which compliance has been very good.

Dr Rowley said the government is consulting with the Attorney General at the moment and will indicate in 48 hours what action is necessary for mandatory use of facemasks.

He said it’s likely that action will be taken against people who insist on not wearing masks in public and the government will cease to rely on suasion and make it an offence.

The prime minister said if these actions are not taken then the numbers we are reporting now will be small to what can occur in a fortnight.

“We are now in a position where we have to act so as not to get sucked into an action that is far worst,” he said.

He called on all to work together to fight the virus, saying that any further lock-down of the economy will have a major impact on the economy, affecting all.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said that the country has moved from Local Spread to Community Spread.

Technical Director, Epidemiology Division at the Ministry of Health, Dr Avery Hinds added that people are now being affected by people who they do not know.

He reinforced the need for people to stay home from work when ill. He said there are no specific places where cases are turning up more than others.