Trinidad government extends non-essential activity curtailment to April 30

By Trinidad Guardian

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A police officer ensures social distancing outside Scotiabank on Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, on Friday. * ANISTO ALVES

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — The curtailment of operations for some sectors has been extended to April 30.

The Government’s latest COVID-19 measure has mandated that bars, churches and similar places, as well as air and seaports remain closed until April 30. And taxis and buses must continue carrying half passenger loads until then also.

This is stated in the Health Ministry’s Public Health Ordinance to curb virus spread issued by the Communication Ministry on Friday. However, the ordinance has left the date for persons to remain at home under the “Stay Home” mandate and for essential services to operate in that period as April 15.

Speaking at yesterday’s virtual COVID-19 media briefing, National Security Minister Stuart Young said some concepts and dates in the ordinance were changed as the Government adjusted to cater to the virus’ spread.

The ordinance listed conditions under which various sectors have to operate under Government’s mandate to “Stay Home” for two weeks—until April 15— to curb COVID-19 spread.

Bars had been told to close since mid-March. Air and seaports were closed to passenger operations in March also. Maxis, taxis and buses were recently told to carry half loads and roll down windows to prevent virus spread.

Yesterday, the Communication Ministry, via a release stated the following regulations will now have effect:

(a) Regulation Three from April 3, 2020 to April 15, 2020;

(b) Regulations One, Two, Four and Five, shall have effect from April 3 to April 30, 2020.

Regulation Three lists the order to “Stay Home” and groups deemed essential which continue working during that period up to April 15. It also includes curtailing up to April 15 those going to beaches, rivers, streams and springs. It also stipulates up to April 15, the five-person limit on people congregating.

Regulation One lists the COVID-19 virus.

Regulation Two extends the stipulation for taxis, maxis and buses to carry half-passenger loads until April 30 or risk a $50,000 fine and six months jail.

Regulation Four extends the closure of bars, churches, clubs, casinos/gambling, in-house restaurant dining and cinema operation until April 30.

Regulation Five extends closure of air/seaport passenger operations until April 30.

The situation is being received with mixed feelings from drivers, already sustaining lower passenger loads. After being told to carry half capacity, some routes hiked fares to counter the ill- effect on revenue.

Several Port-of-Spain/San Fernando drivers recently appealed to Government to consider reducing their fuel price temporarily during the “Stay Home” period or they feared fares would be hiked.

Drivers said it was difficult to carry half passenger loads and pay for fuel at the same rate,”… When we don’t know how long this situation will last.”

Vehicles carry different passenger loads, including eight or 10. Some PoS/South taxis—carrying five or four— also said it was difficult to sustain with half load.

One driver said, “We know essential services have to work, so we don’t want to go off the road completely, dislocating the public now when everyone must help. Social distancing is fine. We’re just hoping for help, even a temporary gas price reduction —as we don’t want to hike fares.”

Last week, the Siparia/San Fernando Taxi Drivers’ Association hiked fares, including San Fernando to Erin/Los Iros, now $20 up from $12. Commuters complained about it.

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