A student participates in an online class from home on Thursday.

by Sampson Nanton

  • Supermarkets allowed to open 24-hours from Dec 10-Jan 3, with masked shoppers
  • Schools to open virtually Jan 4
  • Chance of CXC students, administrators in schools for tests between Jan 17 & Feb 4 dependent on Christmas COVID outcome
  • Chance of Std 5s and Forms 4-6 returning to schools Feb 8 dependent on Christmas COVID outcome

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced that supermarkets and groceries will be allowed to open 24-hours from December 10 to January 3. It is the only major change to the restrictions being made immediately.

He said this will allow more spacing out of shoppers over the busy period, which will help with social distancing.

He made the announcement at this afternoon’s COVID-19 update.

With regards schools, he said, “It is the government’s position that schools will open virtually on January 4.”

However, he said with CXC exams between January 17 and February 4, the government will allow students and administrators to go out to schools to sit the exams. However, he said that will be dependent on good behaviour over the Christmas period.

Dr Rowley said once things are kept at a good level, from February 8 primary school students in Standard 5 and secondary school students in Forms 4 to 6 only, will be able to go out to classes, masked.

Dr Rowley said the reason why the COVID numbers are where they are today, is because “of what we have been doing”.

He said he was very disturbed when “a small cohort of the population who I presume were educated and who were supposed to be in a department where someone was to be in charge” displayed the type of behaviour the authorities has been warning against.

He was referring to the Tobago House of Assembly’s Division of Finance, which had a team-building event that saw several people without masks, in close quarters, dancing and frolicking.

“If our educated people, our managed people could be behaving like that I am fearful of what is going to happen to the rest,” he said.

The prime minister said he is “very worried about Tobago” because of the high influx of people over the holiday season.

A quiet Pigeon Point Beach in Tobago.

“I am asking that whatever you do in your villa, do not do so in large groups,” he said.

Dr Rowley said a number of people in Western Trinidad seem to believe that the restrictions, which include having Christmas limes, do not apply to them “because they are in a high-end district”.

“Well I can tell you, there is no high-end COVID,” he said.

He has appealed to young people between the ages of 15 and 40 not to accept invitations to parties.

“When you agree to enjoy a party going forward in this season by the invitations and great ideas of how you can party, just remember, when you agree to participate, you are taking a chance that the loss on the Roulette table could be your own,” he said.

With regards to the vaccines being prepared for distribution, he said the government will follow the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO). He said once the WHO clears the vaccine, Trinidad and Tobago will accept the vaccination.

National Security Minister Stuart Young said that as at December 4, a total of 15,471 applications were received to enter T&T.

He said 8,500 were granted by December 4.