Police officers speak to a group of people gathered at a table on the Brian Lara Promenade, Independence Square, yesterday, as they enforced the COVID-19 regulations.

Rishard Khan

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The Government has added further health restrictions for a limited period as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.

Beginning today are the prohibition of public gatherings for concerts or entertainment, the reinstatement of a rotational shift system for the Public Service, which must now work at 50 per cent capacity, the reduction of congregation sizes at places of worship from 50 per cent to 25 per cent capacity and the limiting of weddings and funerals to 10 people.

The measures came shortly after the Prime Minister convened a meeting yesterday morning with Ministry of Health and Ministry of National Security officials following a recent spike in cases.

The measures, along with those implemented last week, will be enforced until May 16.

On Wednesday last week, the Government reinstituted bans on visits to beaches and in-house dining and reduced the number of people allowed to gather in public places to five.

On April 1, it also reinstituted the ban on contact and team sports. All these measures represent the second time the Government had to reinstitute restrictions to treat rising cases after bringing them under control.

The first time measures were reimplemented since the pandemic began in March 2020 was on August 17, 2020, after cases soared and the country went from sporadic transmission to community spread following the General Election.

“We tried to strike the proper balance to reduce congregation…as much as possible,” Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said during the announcement at yesterday’s virtual media conference.

He warned citizens to comply “so that more restrictive measures don’t have to be implemented.”

“We know people are tired. We know people are frustrated. But you know what? The virus is not tired. The virus is not frustrated. The virus is alive and kicking all over the world,” Deyalsingh said.

He said once citizens adhere to and obey these measures, COVID-19 cases can be reduced drastically within a month.

“Let us set that target for ourselves. Let us set a collective target as team Trinidad and Tobago that by the middle to the end of May, if we adhere to these measures we can see these figures lowered significantly,” he said.

To ensure adherence to the regulations, newly-appointed Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds said he would ask the Commissioner of Police to have a specific team of officers dedicated to its enforcement.

“Special teams of officers, we expect, would be put together – division by division…all of the nine police divisions across Trinidad and Tobago- and I will ask them to report to this team on a daily basis their activity in terms of their enforcement of those regulations, where people would be made to feel it in their pockets if they practice the unthinking behaviour of disregarding the security and the safety of all of us,” Hinds said.

The measures are reiterations of those instituted last year during the peak of the outbreak.