Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Trinidad and Tobago is now under a state of emergency.

A curfew is also in effect, requiring citizens to stay in their homes between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., with exceptions made for essential workers.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the measures yesterday, one day after the business community called for an state of emergency and curfew to be implemented in an effort to bring the Covid-19 case count under control.

Speaking during a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s Rowley said the move became necessary in light of the high numbers of cases and the rising death toll, which saw 21 deaths being recorded in a single day last week.

“Very soon we would be happy when it’s only 21 because it could go to a number where only 21 is a great improvement,” Rowley said.

The state of emergency took effect from midnight last night, and is to remain in place until further notice.

“So, if you don’t have to be out for exempted reasons, you stay home under force of law,” Rowley stressed.

The Prime Minister thanked the business community for voicing its support for the measures, and noted there had been a turnaround by some people who were initially opposed to stricter restrictions.

He said the turnaround comes as the Covid-19 figures became names and faces of people and loved ones.

“Today in Trinidad and Tobago we have a population that is running scared,” he said.

“I woke up yesterday and people were telling me to press the panic button. I’m sorry it has come to coffins and the faces of dead people to realise that we have always been in a very difficult place.”

Rowley said the energy sector, food supply chain, pharmacies, public and private transport will be exempted.

And he stressed that there is no need to rush to supermarkets and gas stations to panic buy. These services will remain open.

A full list of exempted services is to be released soon, he added.

In addition to the curfew, all face-to-face classes in secondary schools have been stopped. Pupils scheduled to write the CSEC and CXC exams were up until now being allowed to have physical classes in preparation for the exams.

Rowley said this would be halted and the Ministry of Education would advise as to any further plans.

The Ministry of Education will also advise, sometime next week, on plans for the Secondary Entrance ­Assessment (SEA) exam, which has been scheduled for June 10.

Rowley urged the population to be responsible and adhere to the measures under the state of emergency.

T&T last declared a state of emergency in 2011, in response to a wave of crime. Under the then-Kamla Persad-Bissessar government, dozens of people were arrested under the Anti-­Gang Act.

That state of emergency lasted just over three months. Most of those arrested were eventually released, after it was determined there was insufficient evidence to justify their detainment.

Some took legal action against the State and won settlements.

Questioned what would be in place to ensure the state of emergency goes smoothly this time around, Rowley noted this state of emergency is taking place under completely different circumstances.

“None of us in this country have ever been in a state of emergency during a pandemic. Use that as your guide,” he said.

“This is not a comparison of another state of emergency. This situation calls for this, and the length of it will be determined by the response that we get. I’m saying the more co-operative the response, the shorter will be the period.”


Three Opposition MPs are calling on the Government and the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to have a heart and stop disconnecting the water supply of errant customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein yesterday wrote to WASA’s executive director Lennox Sealey urging him to suspend the drive and display humanity as people are suffering and strapped for cash in the pandemic given the lockdowns.

The same UNC people calling on the Government to instruct WASA to hold its hand on debt collection are the same ones who complain in the Parliament and elsewhere that they constituents are not getting water.

“You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have your cake and eat it,” Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said yesterday, as he responded to calls from several UNC MPs to grant a moratorium on the payment of water rates and stop its disconnection drive during the pandemic because people are under pressure.

Smooth sailing.

Braving inclement weather, Barataria resident Kenneth Campbell, 84, boasted he had gotten his second Sinopharm vaccine at Barataria Health Centre yesterday.

While awaiting his driver, Campbell, father of late forest ranger Keith Campbell (who was killed in the line of duty in 2016), said: “The first vaccine, I got was from a man. I did not feel it. The second vaccine was from a woman, and I felt it. It went well.”

Starting Wednesday and yesterday, he was among thousands of elderly citizens (age 65 and up) who got vaccines under the Health Ministry’s “Triple E System—the Elderly Express Experience.”

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith is reminding citizens that patrols will be out prior to and during the enforcement of this weekend’s extended curfew.

In a media release issued yesterday, Griffith noted the actions and comments of “social media trained law enforcement experts”, who appeared to be questioning the rationale in implementing roadblocks throughout the country.

Time is critical if you are searching for a missing loved one.

Kelvin Ballantyne had been missing for about three months from his Tobago home before his family members in Trinidad were informed that he had disappeared.

Kelvin, also known as “Redman”, is described by his sister, Cindy Noel, as “one of the most well-known people in Lambeau, and maybe even across the island because of his job as an electrician”.