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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says his confidence in the citizenry to adhere to public health regulations has not been misplaced. And he is encouraging people to exercise caution and restraint as he announced a further easing of restrictions this week.

During Saturday’s media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Rowley gave the green light for the limited resumption of in-house dining at restaurants minus the sale of alcohol; the sale of consumables at cinemas; permission for teams preparing for national and international sporting events to resume training; the extension of religious worship hours to 90 minutes; and more flights on the domestic air-bridge.

While rivers and ponds and water parks have to remain closed for another two weeks, the prime minister said it was necessary to ensure the health system was not overwhelmed moving forward as certain sectors of the economy are opened up again.

Reviewing the measures Government had been forced to implement as the lockdown began in March, he said, “Our country is one of the few countries in the world that is opening up and going back to some semblance of normalcy.”

However, he acknowledged the risk this presented as he said countries that had done that, had reverted to even harsher lockdowns now as their infection rates surged.

Dismissing the naysayers and their bleak predictions for the future as Government slowly rolled back restrictions, Rowley said, “What is relevant to the people of T&T is to stay alive, stay healthy and everything else is secondary.”

He said the Government will continue to be guided by the science of the virus and what health officials advised, as they did not want to have to throw away the gains so far achieved.

Rowley said, “I know that hurt is being experienced in the few sectors that have remained closed or remain restricted.”

He said this was minuscule when compared to the scale and numbers of people who would be affected if we have to return to the situation we were in back in April.

Measures which remained unchanged included the “grab and go” sale of alcohol at bars; no food or drinks to be served in casinos and members clubs; maxi-taxis and taxis to continue operating at 75 per cent capacity; education, recreational and entertainment sectors remain closed.

Addressing angry bar owners, Rowley said the Government did not have anything against beers and rum which was still available for sale. He said the deterrent was the congregation which often occurred wherever alcohol is served.

“Alcohol has shown and been shown to be one of the contributors to the results that we don’t want where people consume alcohol and it reduces their level of responsibilities.

“For now, we require a higher level of sustained responsibility.”

BOX

1. In-house dining at restaurants allowed at 50 per cent capacity and no alcohol to be served (seating groups must not exceed ten and must be socially distanced);

2. Consumables can be sold at cinemas which will operate at 50 per cent capacity;

3. Sporting teams preparing for national and international events can resume training (no spectator groups allowed and team support groups must not exceed ten);

4. Increased flights by Caribbean Airlines (social distancing protocols apply); and

5. Extension of hours for places of worship from one hour to 90 minutes.