Clint Chan Tack
THE scrapping of the Covid19 Travel Pass system is encouraging news for the tourism, culture and arts sector, Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell said on Friday.
During the virtual health press conference on Wednesday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced the removal of the Travel Pass from June 1. Until now, anyone entering TT had to download the Travel Pass online, fill it out, re-upload it with other documents and then download an approved Travel Pass to enter the country.
“This means that unvaccinated nationals and non-nationals can enter TT, so you don’t have to prove your vaccination status.
“However, you must provide either a negative PCR or an antigen test (performed) 48 hours prior to entry.”
Deyalsingh said people traveling to the country without a negative test will be quarantined at their own expense. During quarantine, he explained, a negative PCR or antigen can be presented at any time as a condition of release.
Other health restrictions such as mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing remain in effect.
Speaking after an event at the National Energy Skills Center auditorium in Couva, Mitchell said: “Of course the Travel Pass was important during the pandemic to make sure we knew who was coming and we knew the people who came knew the kinds of laws, the kinds of restrictions that they had to follow before entering.”
Mitchell was extremely excited and happy about the removal of the Travel Pass and believed other players in tourism, culture and the arts felt the same way. He supported Deyalsingh’s statements regarding other covid19 measures remaining in place to screen visitors to Trinidad and Tobago.
“These are there for our protection.”
Will lifting the Travel Pass encourage more people to come to TT for events such as the Tobago Carnival proposed in October?
Mitchell said: “I agree there is a connection. There are people who just don’t want to have the hassle every time there is a barrier to entry.”
They may now be more willing to come to Tobago in October for its carnival and “to our country as visitors.”
Looking ahead to Carnival 2023, Mitchell said preparations are underway.
“We plan to have Carnival next year, barring unforeseen severe spikes (covid19) or any other type of pandemic.”
Will it be a pre-pandemic style carnival or a limited release, as held this year? Mitchell said, “We hope to have an open carnival.”
A final decision will be made at the appropriate time.
Mitchell was also hopeful that a case involving noise complaints from a party at Brian Lara Stadium had been resolved. Residents want to enjoy peace and quiet in the privacy of their properties. But event promoters depend on these types of parties for their livelihood.
Mitchell said: “I hope this has been resolved. I think there are mitigating factors that can be used to make sure both parties are happy.”
He hopes developers will stick to the strong guidelines provided by the Environment Management Authority (EMA).
“Once these things are done. I believe we can successfully live together and thrive.”