The Trinidad and Tobago government said it hopes to reopen the borders within the next four to six weeks as the country acquires more vaccines to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, speaking at a news conference on Saturday said that discussions will be held with officials of the state-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL) regarding the resumption of scheduled flights from the country’s two main international airports. The airline has been virtually grounded since the borders were closed in March last year.
“Just as we were in mid-March (this year) to do something about the border closure, we had that discussion yesterday and I hope to get a better result this time,” Rowley said.
The Trinidad PM said entry would be based on persons qualifying “to get in under certain circumstances which are your responsibility and not for the government to tell you nay or yeah and those details will come to you in the next few days.
He told reporters that the lockdown in Trinidad, which includes a state of emergency and a curfew had been ‘working well” and in this regard for the month of June, there will be adjustments to some of the measures that had been put in place.
He said that the curfews on the weekend will now begin at 7.00 pm (local time), two hours earlier until 5.00 am.
During the news conference, Rowley also said that it is the intention of the government to have a fully vaccination program in place over the next 12 weeks, as the country acquires vaccines from the African union platform, COVAX as well as the United States.
“It is our intention to vaccinate and operate. Going forward from next week you will be encouraged to vaccinate and operate and in order to do that the Ministry of Health will have specific programmes interfacing with the private sector,” he said, urging the private sector to get its members vaccinated.
He said depending on the shipping arrangements “we would be able to vaccinate a substantial amount of people.
“Our first target is half a million people in this country and based on the irons we have in the fire we can now, as I mentioned last week begin to accelerate our vaccination programme because we can say we have vaccines for an accelerated programme,” he said.
He said he is hoping that by September 1, “our target being when the schools open in mid-September we should be in a far better position and be more of a vaccinated population”.
Rowley, who is also the chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping, thanked Washington for its decision to make at least six million doses of the vaccines available to Latin America and the Caribbean.
He said that there were several US US legislators, including Maxine Waters, Gregory Meeks, Bennie Thompson, as well as the United States Vice President, Kamala Harris, who had been instrumental in ensuring that the region benefitted from the US vaccine initiative.