This media house thus urges citizens to continue to practise all the health and safety protocols. The country has suffered significantly under COVID’s sustained pressure. However, the ultimate power to keep it at bay to return to some semblance of normalcy still resides in citizens’ hands
Yesterday’s smooth reopening of Trinidad and Tobago’s border to regional and international travellers was good news to thousands not only here but within the Diaspora. After all, it has been over a year and a half that the borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restricting as well the free movement of not only individuals but goods and services and even the ability to conduct business with external regional and international entities in some cases.
A combined two regional flights brought nationals who may have been stranded abroad or chose to wait out the situation wherever they were and other individuals to T&T. Caribbean Airlines flight No. BW 607 from Georgetown, Guyana, was the first flight to start the process, bringing on board a meagre 18 passengers. More importantly, however, was the mere fact that the border gateway was now reopened. Conversely, three flights took persons leaving T&T to conduct other forms of activity they were previously unable to.
In that regard, it was refreshing to hear Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan indicate that there was a seamless reopening of the border and activity at the Piarco International Airport and that all the health and safety protocols put in place, including the start-up of a COVID-19 testing lab for arriving passengers, were followed with no issues.
But yesterday’s reopening was but the first test of the system. In the coming days, flight activity will increase and other airlines will also reopen their route schedules to T&T, bringing more people traffic and possibly a surge ahead, given that it also coincides with the vacation period both here and in North America.
This is why hours after Minister Sinanan’s comment, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s statement that there were already individuals seeking to trick their way through the health protocol process implemented for reentry to the country was disheartening.
With the deadly Delta variant looking large and wreaking havoc in several countries that felt they had turned the curve on the disease, T&T cannot afford to let its guard down on this important first line of keeping the disease out. Indeed, one person slipping through the cracks can cause a contagious ripple effect which may set the country back by the 16 months of full economic and social activity it lost to the first and second waves of COVID.
Added to this, tomorrow will see the reopening of the food and restaurant sector, following on the reopening of the manufacturing and construction sectors recently, making it the busiest period of human activity the country would have seen in months.
As such, now is not the time to become complacent on COVID-19. There was more good news yesterday that citizens were accessing vaccines and that a batch of Pfizer jabs on the way could be used to inoculate children at secondary school level ahead of the new school year in September.
This media house thus urges citizens to continue to practise all the health and safety protocols. The country has suffered significantly under COVID’s sustained pressure. However, the ultimate power to keep it at bay to return to some semblance of normalcy still resides in citizens’ hands.