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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses members of the media during the press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. (Image courtesy OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER)

Three weeks after a State of Emergency went into effect to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus in T&T, a weekend curfew is set to go into effect today from 7 pm to 5 am for the month of June.

Currently operating under a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am, which went into effect on May 15, citizens have also been warned that daytime hours are not an excuse to gather to party because there is no curfew in place.

In announcing a tightening of the hours further designed to curtail the movement of citizens on Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley urged people to put the brakes on weekend parties and limes.

Commending the citizenry for adhering to the regulations and tightened holiday curfew during the last week, Rowley said it was time to do a little bit more.

“You did behave very well I must say, in the last two holidays,” he said at a COVID-19 media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

Last Tuesday, the country celebrated Indian Arrival Day and on Thursday Corpus Christi.

Admitting he did not want to lose the strides made on flattening the current curve thus far, Rowley said, “Come Friday evening, I would not like this situation to change.”

He urged citizens to be aware of the new weekend curfew hours, advising, “Please do not come out to congregate. Come out for emergencies and essentials only.”

Pointing out that Government’s new mantra was to vaccinate and operate, Rowley said the move was aimed at eliminating gatherings, a trend which was still being noticed despite the extra lockdown measures taken in recent weeks.

Asked what prompted the need for tighter restrictions and where exactly the spikes in new infections had been recorded during the past two weeks, epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said infections continued to pop up everywhere.

He said the “removal” of two hours from an individual’s day may not sound like much but in actuality, it could account for a crucial reduction in the viral spread.

Meanwhile, asked if spikes within homes were responsible for many of the new infections being recorded, Hinds admitted it was a contributor, as close contact in terms of staggering bathroom times and use of other amenities was difficult in some households.

Borders to be reopened in 4-6 weeks

Fifteen months after Trinidad and Tobago shut its borders to the rest of the world, plans are being made to reopen it within a couple of weeks.

While no concrete decisions have as yet been taken, Prime Minister Rowley said a meeting will be held on Tuesday with officials from the Ministry of Health and Caribbean Airlines (CAL) “because it is the Government’s position that within the next four to six weeks, we will do away with the border closure arrangement and the exemption system because as we vaccinate…and as vaccination has been accelerated in North America in particular, the situation is different now.

“The populations of North America and the Caribbean can now more easily mix and we are better able to manage people coming into the country,” Rowley said during yesterday’s COVID-19 update.

Indicating that arriving passengers will have to meet the stipulated criteria, which includes whether they are vaccinated or not—the details of which will be revealed next week—Rowley said, “There will be controls and there will be categorisation of conditions.”

Several hundred T&T nationals are still awaiting permission to re-enter the country after months of being stuck abroad.