Barbados Prime Minister Mottley.

While Government’s move to bring home Trinidad and Tobago students from the University of the West Indies’ Barbados and Jamaica campuses was always part of its plan, Minister of National Security Stuart Young says the 35 nationals who flew to Barbados from the United Kingdom on Monday, after T&T’s borders closed, took personal decisions. He was also critical of statements by a national reportedly stranded in Margarita, Venezuela.

Speaking during a press conference called to update the country on the latest COVID-19 information, Young said the T&T students’ return had to be done and it wasn’t an exemption situation. But he advised other T&T students around the globe to stay put. He noted situations all over the world where travellers from certain countries were stranded in others.

Saying Government empathised with those who left T&T, he added the state also had a duty to protect citizens.

“The unfortunate 35 in Barbados, when we said we’d lock down the border, that was a signal to come home. When we closed borders—shutting out some—it was to protect you in Trinidad and Tobago. Everyone allowed in presents a risk,” Young said.

“Those who got on the Barbados flight took the risk. They should also have known Barbados had a mandatory 14-day quarantine—but we’re not opening our borders.”

He said he spoke to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Attorney General Dale Marshall on Monday “in a very Caricom conversation … I emphasised our position and they understood.”

He said the 35 nationals are in a Barbados hotel adhering to that country’s quarantine. Asked if Government was footing the bill, he said Government didn’t ask anyone to leave T&T and not return and everyone took personal decisions.

Young also said one Jagdish Pramsook—said to be among nationals stranded in Margarita —didn’t tell reporters he has Venezuelan residency and in 2010 when he applied for this, he had a Venezuelan ID card. He said it was irresponsible of Pramsook to mislead the media, adding Government will hold fast to protect the rest of the public.