FLASHBACK - Trinidadian nationals who returned home from Guyana leave the Piarco International Airport in March 2020. Picture ABRAHAM DIAZ

The Airports Authority of T&T (AATT) has increased personnel to ensure passengers, especially on domestic Tobago flights, adhere to public health protocols.

The issue of failed health protocols and last weekend’s Tobago party has also been noted by AATT.

AATT general manager Hayden Newton confirmed this during yesterday’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) interview with the AATT. He was asked by JSC member Ayanna Webster-Roy (Tobago West MP) about people adhering to protocols.

Despite border closure since March 23, 2020, Newton said there is activity at Piarco with cargo and arriving and departing repatriation flights and domestic flights at the ANR Robinson airport.

He assured the AATT had handled pathogen issues before with other viruses, has rigorous procedures and is closely guided by the Health Ministry on the COVID-19 issue, and will continue to do so with the new strain.

Newton said the AATT had noted – including via CCTV surveillance – people not adhering to protocols and AATT had increased customer service and security personnel. He noted failure on rules particularly with domestic traffic, for example with last weekend’s events in Tobago.

There has been widespread concern about flagrant non-adherence to measures seen among the large number of youths who partied at No Man’s Land last weekend.

On another matter, Newton said he couldn’t recall an instance of any passenger “trying to run away” as JSC member Esmond Forde had queried.

AATT’s deputy general manager (Operations) Kurt Menal said airport food court concessionaires had to prove to AATT how they complied with regulations including having sneeze guards, social-distancing markers and other aspects. AATT also has six metro-static foggers for sanitising surfaces.

Menal said repatriation flight passengers had been dealt with from the airport tarmac up to December 1. After that, they were processed in the terminal, then proceeded through Immigration/Customs procedures. They are then put on buses to head to quarantine facilities. He said the areas through which they pass are immediately sanitised.

He added there is no rush for luggage since there are social distancing markers in those areas. Newton said the AATT will be ready when borders are re-opened.

Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram said fleet owners spray aircraft. There are also 24 healthcare workers at airports. Parasram said the airports have a Port Health Room in event someone is ill. But he said there has never been an instance where a COVID case has been ill and the room was used. It was used to interview people from some countries who were repatriated.