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National Security Minister Stuart Young addresses members of the media during the press conference at the National Security Ministry, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain on Tuesday 2nd March 2021.

Some 1,673 people, who traditionally visit family overseas and have applied for exemptions to return to T&T – and are waiting more than six months, are among the largest category for prioritisation.

National Security Minister Stuart Young gave the information in the Senate replying to queries from Independent Senator Paul Richards.

Young said the average waiting period for persons awaiting a return travel exemption is based on the number of persons in the queue, quarantine space available and availability of flights to T&T.

He said, “As of February 16, 2021, the number of persons awaiting return travel exemptions for more than three months, but less than six months is 3,531,”

“The number of persons awaiting return travel exemptions for more than six months is 1,673.

He said that latter number of 1,673 comprises people who traditionally spent time out of T&T with family and now want to come back – and they’re in the largest category for prioritisation .

Young said there are two types of travel exemptions granted in T&T. Persons entering the country and persons departing the country.

He added: “The State is mindful of the need to encourage and support economic activity during the current pandemic, and continues to grant exemptions; to businesses that request personnel to come to T&T for purposes associated with business activity and to business persons on a case by case basis, and,”

“The ministry continues to expedite ‘Special Exemption’ or ‘Emergency Status Exemption’ applications on a case- by- case basis, for example, nationals requiring emergency medical attention abroad or departure of students abroad and other types of this nature.”

They apply on- line and the system will red-flag these. “People also reach out to the ministry and generally find way to bring it to our attention for consideration.”

He said in the case of air ambulances that would be an immediate requirement and others may be special flights to carry people for medical or surgery,”It depends on the case by case situation, and we deal with these in speedy manner.”

Young said there is a dedicated email section in the on-line application process, which is [email protected] where people and businesses can email directly .It goes to the permanent secretaries and is considered on case-by-case basis .

“All of the business applications being made – once legitimate applications – are granted. T&T is fortunate in that our economy has been functioning and sophisticated countries’ economies have ground to a halt and they have rolled back situations.”

Young said the on-line system has allowed for for scientific data-gathering and it’s now easy for users of system to put people in different categories and see different elements.