Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has ordered more stringent restrictions in a desperate attempt to limit the movement of citizens, and head off a catastrophic increase in the number of Covid-positive cases.
This after citizens were told today that in as little as seven days, the bed space capacity to care for sick Covid-positive patients could run out, given the number of cases being admitted daily.
Rowley said if there was no intervention now, it would result in the economic destruction of the country.
As a result, he announced the following as of midnight.
*All food service will be discontinued, including street food sales. Feed yourself at home, he said.
*All retail sales will end. The pharmacies, groceries, hardware stores and financial institutions will remain open.
*These businesses will be allowed to open between 6a.m to 8p.m.
* People who don't have to come out for essential business were told to STAY AT HOME
The prime minister hosted a media conference at the Diplomatic Centre in Port-of-Spain at 2pm. He was joined by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.
Rowley said, “If we do not act now given what has been generated through the population, the level of infection and requirement for health care that is demanding, if we do not act to stymie the growth rate we know where that will lead us.”
He said the government was moving to restrict movement of people within the community and gatherings as people move around.
“So it matters not what you are engaged in but if you are engaged in an activity that facilitates the movement or gathering of people, the government has to see that as an area for restriction otherwise the common sense thing will not be done,” he said.
Rowley said since last Thursday, government had been monitoring the situation “on all fronts” and anticipating that the actions taken would have “certain effects”. He said the authorities have also been analyzing the response of the population
“We always maintained that success or failure lies heavily on how individual members of the population react to things we are doing,” he said.
At this afternoon's press conference, the doctors in charge of the Covid response said that there are 542 hospital beds available for patients.
As of this morning, there were 260 patients in hospital, giving the parallel health care system a 48 per cent capacity.
Thirty-five per cent of every hundred people being tested for Covid-19 are returning a positive result.
Some 13.6 per cent of these cases are being admitted daily.
And only 6.6 percent of the patients are being discharged daily.
And more younger people are beginning to die.
As a result, the hospitals are filling at a rate far faster than it is emptying.
As of this morning, there were 30 patients in the Intensive Care Units, and 50 in the High Dependency Units.
Some of these patients will not survive.
Rowley said that social support for citizens affected by the restrictions would be guaranteed.
The support includes the senior citizens grant, which number 107,000, costing more than four billion dollars.
Last Thursday Rowley called an urgent press conference and announced the following restrictions:
1. As of midnight Thursday, all restaurants and bars were closed.
2. All malls were closed.
3. All places of worship were closed.
4. All gyms and fitness centres were closed.
5. All spas, beauty shops and hair dressing salons were closed.
6. Casinos, betting houses, cinemas, theatres and clubs were closed.
7. The public service would operate on essential service only.
8. Tobago would be isolated by limiting the amount of flights in and out, limited to three flights a day.
9. The sea bridge would operate on 25 per cent capacity.
10. All tours to various areas of recreation, the Bird Sanctuary, Buccoo reef, etc ,would end.
11. Gathering would continue to be limited to groups of five.
12. Mask wearing would continue to be enforced.
This period of response will be enforced until May 23.