Minister of National Security Stuart Young making a statement during the sitting of Parliament.

Government is arranging to send a Caribbean Airlines plane in June for T&T students at UWI’s Barbados and Jamaica campuses if they wish to come home, but they’ll first have to be quarantined overseas and also again in T&T when they return.

National Security Minister Stuart Young revealed the plan at yesterday’s daily media briefing.

He said he spoke to UWI, St Augustine yesterday morning and Government is dealing with the principals of UWI in Jamaica and Barbados campuses on the issue. The principals will co-ordinate the effort.

Young said talks were to be held with the Barbadian prime minister.

The plan is for Government to send a CAL plane to both islands in the first week of June to bring students home if they wish. But he said this is on condition that they’ll first have to be quarantined where they are.

That will be for two weeks and also when they return here, they’ll have to enter state quarantine for two weeks.

Saying it was strictly up to students if they want to accept this offer, Young said when Government initially tried to do the arrangement earlier, some students said they wanted to remain where they are due to their exams.

“It’s a personal decision by students because you’ll be asked to quarantine where you are at overseas and then when you return, you’ll be put in state quarantine.”

Young also said Government continues to receive hundreds of applications from people seeking exemption from the closed-border policy to return home. This includes people in Russia, Ireland, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany, the US, UK and other Caricom states.

Young said the border closure done since March 23 was needed since T&T’s 116 COVID cases arose from the importation of the virus. He said exemptions are managed carefully so that when a group returns, they enter state quarantine for observation,” adding, “but we have limited facilities for this.”

He also acknowledged there over 300 cruise ship workers “outside”. But Young said the bombardment of accusations that he was “preventing” them from returning isn’t true.

“There will be more information on this aspect as we go forward,” he said.

He said one person had called him from Ireland about an expired T&T passport.

He said his ministry will do what’s necessary at Immigration to facilitate such issues.

Young added that most countries don’t allow travellers in if they have fewer than six months on their passport. But he said when borders reopen, T&T’s embassies and consulates overseas will resume business (to deal with passports) and Government may be able to issue emergency travel documents to work with other countries or airlines to say a passport extension is granted. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Young said.

Regarding those in Venezuela who applied to return and have been calling on Government to do certain things, Young said the process is that Government grants approval for their entry and that was done.

“There’s nothing for Government to do at this time. The nationals in Venezuela will have to make their own arrangements to return and tell us of it. The same applied with others in Suriname. We’ve done our part.“