The Caribbean Airlines aircraft in which the T&T medical students returned from Cuba at the Piarco International Airport last night.

There are between 2,500 to 3,000 applications for an exemption to enter the country as borders remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to Minister of National Security Stuart Young, whose ministry is responsible for granting the permission, the number of nationals seeking to return is significantly higher.

“Each application may be one person or it may be a family,” Young said in a Ministry of Health virtual press conference yesterday.

“So the application is only indicative of the physical application coming to us. We have received applications with as much as 22 persons, we have some with families of five and it goes like that.”

He reiterated once again that Government has to balance the number of nationals being allowed to return with available spaces in the parallel healthcare system and quarantine facilities.

Minister Young indicated the next batch of citizens who would be allowed to return are those in Grenada. He also indicated that they are in the process of allowing nationals in Canada to allow to return. He said this would be facilitated by Caribbean Airlines on flights used to carry local farmers to Canada to work on farms there.

“We have a number of flights going out starting from today (yesterday) I believe or within the next couple of days taking the farmers who want to go and work as seasonal farmers,” he said.

“The first flight is not going to bring anyone back but we are looking at the second Caribbean airlines’ flight allowing a number of persons back. You would be granted exemptions and then touch base with Caribbean Airlines to be able to come home.”

He also indicated that a dedicated email address was created for nationals seeking exemptions to leave the country. This he said was to ensure they won’t be lost among the 3,000 applications to return. These applications can be sent to [email protected], he said.

Applications received from nationals for exemptions:

United States 924

Canada 175

United Kingdom 146

Europe 55

Middle East 50

Far East Countries 68