Trinidad Prime Minister Keith Rowley. (FILE)
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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley Saturday implored nationals to wear masks covering their noses and mouths as the government announced that it would continue to implement all the measures outlined two weeks ago to curb the significant spread of the coronavirus (COVId-19).
Rowley told a news conference that as of Monday, the wearing of the mask would become mandatory and according to the amendment to the existing Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which would be passed by both houses of parliament on Saturday, they face a fine from as low as TT$1,000 (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) for the first offence to TT$5 000 for a third offence.
“From Monday it will be illegal to be out in the public place without a mask,” Rowley said, adding that “unfortunately it had to come to that”, after indicating that some people were reluctant to follow the various measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus that has so far infected 1 577 people and killed 19 since the first case was detected in march this year.
“As of Monday it will be a matter for the police,” Rowley said, adding “without the law people were taking the position I don’t have to do that.
‘There will always be minority positions. Let us do what is reasonable,” he said, adding however that “there is no scientific data to make drastic changes” such as another lockdown of the island.
He said the government would continue to be guided by the office of the Chief Medical Officer, telling reporters he had passed on to the police, an invitation he received to attend a party.
“If I come early it is TT$50, a lot of nice girls, if you come late it is TT$100. I passed that to the police and I hope the police attended that party and lock up everybody who was there, because I am just fed up of people just playing the fool when they are talking about lives and livelihoods and those who have to party then we have to police them. Simple as that,” Rowley said.
“Some people see this as a profitable environment. It is not a profit that is going to work for the wide national community, it is those kinds of gatherings that will cause us to be struggling if we find ourselves unnecessarily infected,” he added.
On August 15, the government announced a series of new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which in recent days had pushed the island into the category of “community spread”.
Rowley repeated the measures that included all in-house dining at restaurant and bars, food courts and malls being suspended with only pick up services, all beaches and rivers closed as well as all places of worship, gyms and fitness centers.
He said all contact sports will stop and waterparks closed, as well as casinos and members clubs, and cinemas. In addition there will be no gatherings of more than five people permitted, and weddings and funerals, christenings will only allow for a maximum of 10 people.
Rowley said that all public transport will function at 50 per cent capacity and that all travel to Tobago will be on an essential basis. (CMC)