Trade Ministry responds to private sector: Phased reopening stays

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has defended the Government’s phased reopening of the country as part of its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, the Ministry said it has taken note of the response from several quarters of the private sector that have asked to be allowed to return to work in the first phase.

However, it noted that the current restrictions are meant to safeguard the lives of the citizenry.

“The restrictions imposed by the GORTT were primarily based on the need to protect human lives and going forward, a healthy workforce will be the engine for rejuvenating the economy. Trinidad and Tobago is now in a good place where economic activity can be carefully reintroduced.  However, it is important that the protection of the health of our workforce in the manufacturing, services, retail and other sectors of the economy, as well as the safety of the general population, be rigidly safeguarded. Therefore, the main challenge is getting all types of businesses back on track in the shortest possible period without eroding the gains made in maintaining the public health environment over the last two months.”

The Ministry said the administration has considered advice from public health professionals who have managed to successfully guide the country thus far. This includes the Multisectoral Committee to Treat with COVID-19.

The release said it has also taken into consideration the experiences of other nations which swiftly re-opened economic activity and are now faced with a resurgence of the virus.

“As a consequence, the Government believes that it is important to adopt a Risk-based Approach to the Phased-Re-opening of the Trinidad and Tobago Economy.”

It added that it acknowledges the challenges being experienced by firms of all sizes and the need to bring as much normalcy back into the economy.

However, the Ministry reassured that this can only occur if the country continues to flatten the curve and contain the novel coronavirus.

“As announced by the Honourable Prime Minister, once the public health environment continues to improve, an acceleration of timelines for the re-opening of other Sectors of the economy will be considered.  The Ministry of Health is already actively working with various sectors to develop new and customised protocols to allow other business sectors to operate safely once re-opened.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry said it will collaborate with the private sector to ensure the preservation of the country’s economic stability and business continuity despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.

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