Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Back to business as T&T opens up today

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN)-Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has given permission for the resumption of almost all economic activity one week ahead of the third phase of reopening.
Scheduled to take effect on June 7, phase three will now kick in on June 1.
The move follows the same pattern when Rowley announced the resumption of phase two four days earlier than previously scheduled.
In addition to all public servants returning to work from Monday, the retail sector as well as lottery agents, bookstores, professional services, dentists, opticians and therapists will also resume business operations.
However, the owners of these establishments will have to close their doors at 6 pm and ensure that customers do not congregate, practice social distancing and wear their masks.
Outlining the measures during a press conference at Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on Saturday, Rowley said he had indicated that phase three would have started from June 5 to 19, but a decision was made to move it forward to June 1.
“So it would mean that those who were deemed non-essential would now be required to come to work. But they would do so in a system where all the managers of the public service would be required out to work.”
Public servants, he said, will pick up duty on a rotational basis until further notice. Rowley said they will encourage the use of virtual meetings at the management level, while workers are allowed flexitime
“If there are persons who have issues with child care arrangements and so on and they offer to do virtual work, we would encourage the public service to do that.” People assigned to work on rotation would have to make their own child care arrangements. Bringing children into workplaces, Rowley said, would not be encouraged. “We don’t want exposure. So it requires cooperation between management and the staff to get most of this done.”
The PM said they will open “all retail establishments” which he described as a major sector, as well as malls, bookshops, dental services, and occupational health therapy and professional services such as engineers and architects will also be allowed to operate.
People will not be able to dine in food courts at malls.
“I hope I am making that clear. Business in the malls is normal shopping.”
He said all National Lotteries Control Board lottery agents will be authorised to operate.
As for the opening of racing pools and tracks, Rowley said “I don’t see that we have cleared horse racing today. We have not given clearance for horse racing to commence.” By June 15, these businesses should be in a position to operate.
As for maxi-taxi operators and hired taxis, the PM said they would have to continue operating at 50 per cent capacity.
With respect to the hotels, he said, “where hotels are able to offer outdoor dining on-premises to residents that will be permitted.”
The PM said phase four, which was scheduled to open on June 20, will now move up to June 8.
“That means the full public service should be out and operating and would continue so to do on a rotational basis. It means that your hairdressers, barbers and spas will be open to you on the 8th. So one more week.”
Maids, housekeepers, gardeners and domestic workers will also resume work on June 8.
Rowley said he has asked Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram to reach out to operators of casinos and cinemas to submit a proposal on “workplace safety” so their workers–many of whom are women–can return to work.
“And bars as well to be able in the next cycle that we would consider the reopening of these establishments. We want to bring them back in operations but we want to have some idea as to what protocols would be in place, so come next week, we would do that.”
Having received complaints that people are being “disconnected from God,” Rowley said our churches need to be opened. He said while worshipping God is good, gathering was a matter of concern.
“So we have to wait for a little longer…maybe one more cycle.”
Phase five, which was scheduled to come into effect on July 5 Rowley said, will now be brought up to June 22. “So that is two weeks earlier. And, of course, if the record remains as clean as it is, the week before that, we might even come forward a little earlier.”
He said by the third week in June, we should be back to “loud praises” in our cathedrals.
“Again, all of this is predicated on the assumption that our numbers remain good. We trust in this period we are opening up the doors wider and wider….that we are not subject to that infection level which is called a spike.”
By June 21, Rowley said, they are looking to open beaches, rivers and sporting activities.
Phase Three reopening takes effect on June 1
-Policy of “No masks no service” holds
-All sectors of the Public Service–managers and supervisors required to report for work
-Subordinates will be required to work on rotation–meaning, some Monday, Wednesday, Friday, while others work Tuesday and Thursday
-Management to use virtual methods to host meetings
-People with child-care needs can work virtually
-Flexitime can be utilised to minimise the number of people in the office and on the roads
-All retail establishments to reopen. This is a major sector-small trade, small businesses
-Restrictions on dental care, physical therapy in pools and occupational health and therapy lifted
-Professional services such as engineers, architects, surveyors
-All NLCB outlets to reopen
-All malls
-No dine-in at mall food courts
-CAL to increase services to Tobago
-Seabridge services will also be ramped up
-Bookshops to reopen
-Despite the increase in the number of people back out to work from Monday, maxi-taxis and taxis will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
-Hotels can resume outdoor dining–no indoor dining allowed
Phase Four reopening June 8
-Domestic workers
*No decision yet on casinos, bars and cinemas
Government may consider reopening these establishments in the next cycle later in June.
*Places of worships may open in the next cycle.

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