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Minister of National Security Stuart Young.

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Around 1,000 Trinidad and Tobago nationals are being allowed to return home, Minister of National Security Stuart Young confirmed at a news conference yesterday.

This would include cruise ship workers, passengers, University of West Indies students and a T&T ambassador.

Some of the returning nationals would be required to pay for their quarantine.

“As the government, we would love to be able to just open up and bring back all of our nationals or larger numbers of nationals but the numbers I’ve just told you all about equate to over 850 and to have 850 for the next 14 days as we manage it, as we monitor, we believe there may be positive cases… and we need to be able to manage it,” he said after listing the various groups returning to T&T.

The exercise, Young said began this week with a group that applied for exemptions over a month ago.

“We expect on Friday- in two days time, the 12th- about 326 to 360 Trinidad and Tobago nationals to return on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Right now they’re being consolidated in Barbados, they’re stocking up on supplies,” he said.

He noted that after negotiations, a dedicated vessel would be used for the quarantine of all of these nationals.

“When they’ve come in, we’ve made arrangements – our health personnel to test every one of the nationals. Those tests would then be put into the system and they would all be quarantined on the ship in separate rooms, separate cabins with their own washroom facilities to keep that quarantine safe. They will be monitored on a daily basis,” he said.

During his listing, he indicated that some of the returning nationals would be paying for their quarantine. However, when asked, was unable at the time to state how many of the total number of returning nationals would be footing the cost.

The Minister of National Security also said a decision was taken to allow local farm workers who wish to leave for Canada to temporarily work on farms to do so. He said that after consultations with the Attorney General, Faris Al-Rawi, it was decided these farmers would need to sign an agreement that should they chose to return to T&T, they would also need to foot the bill for their quarantine period. He said the waiver being signed also ensures that the farmers are aware that there is currently an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Canadian farms and that they would not qualify for treatment in the Canadian health system which is not free.

“There is going to be a certain indemnity letter for each one of these workers to sign acknowledging that they are putting themselves at risk,” he said.