by Sampson Nanton

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced adjustments to the COVID-19 restrictions, including a full return of public servants to work from Monday, and the reopening of gyms, places of worship, cinemas and members’ clubs with some caveats.

However, no immediate concessions were made for in-house dining at bars and restaurants. As it stands, people will have to continue partaking in take away services only. The prime minister made the announcement at a news conference on Saturday afternoon in Tobago.

Prime Miniser Dr Keith Rowley speaks at a news conference on Saturday.

The changes include;

  • Places of worship to be opened up for services that should not last beyond an hour. Churches and other places of worship should be at 50 per cent capacity and congregants should be spaced out.
  • The Public Service will return to 100 per cent as of Monday. Permanent Secretaries and managers are being called to manage the workplaces for proper distancing and sanitising.
  • Gyms will be opened at 50 per cent from 6 am to 10 pm.
  • Adults doing post Secondary and Tertiary education classes which cannot be done online, will be allowed to be returned to institutions. He noted, for examples, laboratories and flight schools that require people to be physically there.
  • Cinemas, theatres and members’ clubs will be allowed to return to 50 per cent capacity but must include wearing of masks. This means the consumption of eats and drinks will not be allowed in any of those places. They will open from 8 am to 10 pm.
  • Bars and restaurants will not be opened up for in-house dining and other services for another two weeks.
  • Beaches and waters around the country will now be reopened. Dr Rowley urged the population not to rush to Maracas Beach and Pigeon Point, noting it would create the same problem they are trying to avoid.
  • Rivers and ponds are not reopened.
  • Gatherings in public remain at 10.
  • Hotels and guesthouses can use pools.
  • The regulations will kick in on Monday.
MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain. Cinemas will be allowed to reopen with 50 per cent capacity on Monday.

The prime minister also announced that a committee is being put in place to look at allowing nationals to come home when flights become available, and go into home quarantine.

He is hoping that the committee can respond within a week’s time.

Dr Rowley said the changes were made under very deep consideration for all.

He who told the media that he lost a close friend and neighbour to the virus, urged the population not to simply see the deaths as just numbers. He urged all to do what they can to ensure that more people do not die.

The prime minister added that masks must continued to be worn at all times in public and has advised that people continue to sanitise, wash hands and keep physical distancing.

Prior to the announcements, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Parasram announced that another person has died from the virus, taking the number to 105.