The head office of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce in West Moorings, Trinidad.

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (T&T Chamber) is calling on the authorities to combine the tightening of borders with strong enforcement of the COVID-19 Regulations and the latest restrictions announced by the Prime Minister, in order to bring down COVID-19 infections in this country.

In an official statement released today, the T&T Chamber admits to being concerned about the impact these latest restrictions will have on the business community and the economy, but acknowledges that “the current infection trend and potential impact on our health system is sobering”.

The T&T Chamber also is urging Government to do its utmost to procure vaccines, and it is encouraging citizens to obey the COVID-19 Regulations and adhere to the health and safety protocols to reduce the disease’s transmission.

The following is the full text of the Chamber’s statement…

Statement by the T&T Chamber on new COVID-19 restrictions

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (T&T Chamber) listened very closely today to the press conference hosted by Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. We are still concerned whether the increased restrictions alone will curb the spread of the virus. In this regard, we look forward to the robust enforcement promised and referred to by the Prime Minister today, which the T&T Chamber has been calling for as well as the management of our porous borders.

We understand the concern about the movement of people and that is why we believe take away and delivery services for all business make sense, their operations do not have to be closed entirely.

Many businesses have invested and developed their digital infrastructure to facilitate servicing their customers through curbside pickup and delivery services. Also, many entrepreneurs have established delivery services. These services are extremely safe and, in many instances, contactless.

Additionally, the following needs to be addressed urgently:

1. Increased testing and contact tracing based on the current positivity rate of 35% from the limited testing, especially in the high-risk communities where the spread of the virus has escalated. We need to specifically monitor the spread of the Brazilian variant.

2. We must continue to aggressively pursue the procurement of vaccines. We must halt the spread at all costs. In the final analysis, the cost of continued lockdowns to the economy will be significantly more than whatever we have to pay for vaccines. These efforts must also be accompanied by an educational campaign to address vaccine hesitancy.

3. While there has been mention of some social support, the T&T Chamber calls on the Government to provide financial support for the business sectors that have been impacted. Based on Government’s limited ability to provide support, would it not be better to allow the established businesses which have a track record of operating safely to operate with reduced capacities so they can sustain operations even at a lower level?

The current infection trend and potential impact on our health system is sobering. While we are confident that the majority of businesses are doing the right thing to protect their customers and employees, we call on the citizens of T&T to obey the regulations and only go out if necessary. We all have a part to play in saving lives and livelihoods. No one is safe until everyone is safe.