Faris Al-Rawi

The state has been hit with 16 lawsuits related to COVID-19 since the borders were closed in March in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. This was revealed by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi when asked whether the decision to revert to a 10 pm closing time for bars had anything to with the lawsuit filed by more than 300 bar owners and operations and the Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT).

In an interview at the Medine Street Housing Development during his walkabout in the San Fernando West constituency, Al-Rawi noted that the Public Health Regulations were revisited every two weeks. He said the decision was taken because of the medical evidence and more particularly the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service confirmed that they were able to supervise bars and the “other Public Health Regulations impact focus points in an effective way”.

“I believe we are up to 16 lawsuits now from Anand Ramlogan and Gerald Ramdeen where they doing everything from trying to repeal and strike out the regulations so that they can open the borders, importantly, so that they can set free COVID positive patients and so that they can basically collapse Trinidad and Tobago.”

Condemning the actions of the UNC, he said the party’s attorneys have lost all the matters heard this far in the court.

“They are doomed to fail but I think it an attack on the people of Trinidad and Tobago to want to strike out the Public Health Regulations and to demand that the borders be open. That is reprehensible and that is the opposite course taking us away from being number one in the world to probably being a disaster zone.”

Asked about the laws regarding the use of music trucks during campaigns, he said his focus is on his campaign and the enforcement of the laws is for the Police Service.

BOATT, which is being represented by Ramlogan, was granted leave by Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams last Thursday to file for judicial review challenging the then 8 pm closing time.

The matter will be heard today.

During a press conference on Saturday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced the closing time for bars had been extended from 8 pm to 10 pm.

However, he again appealed to patrons and bar operators to exercise responsibility and observe the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley recently told a media conference that around 10,000 nationals have sought exemptions to come home and that even his daughter in New York wanted to return, but wasn’t allowed or encouraged to do so.

He noted, however, that exemptions could increase according to what sort of supervised quarantine people agree to have.

“There’s no deliberate policy to trample on anyone’s rights. We’re trying to protect everyone’s life, especially those within T&T’s border,” he said.

The prime minister had added that exemptions for returns would be allowed on a managed basis so hospital capacity wouldn’t be affected by large numbers entering.

Of the 330,000 nationals overseas, he said 275,000 live in the US. But there is a category of approximately 10,000 who were “outside” when borders closed and may need exemptions.

The majority is from the US.

Government has so far granted approximately 4,600 exemptions.