Daily Brief - Tuesday 17th March, 2020

NEWS

Fifth covid19 case confirmed

On Monday night the Ministry of Health announced in one of its regular updates that the total of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Trinidad and Tobago had risen to five. The case, like the previous four, was described as being “imported.” The patient is a 26-year-old man. He is the youngest patient of those whose ages have been revealed. The release did not give further details. Read more here

Landlords, banks asked give debtors COVID-19 bligh

Government is asking banks and landlords to defer certain aspect of payments from people who may be unable to pay or who may have lost their job due to the current COVID-19 crisis. “It’s not forgiveness of the debt, only deferral,” Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said at Monday’s media briefing on the COVID-19 situation at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. “We’re saying to the banks, we’re all in this together and togetherness will make this task easier,” he added. While Government was handling its responsibilities on the crisis, he added it can’t be a normal situation for all else. In the private sector, he said, there will be “opportunity and requirement.” “We’ll ask them to make deferral on some aspect of payments for those unable to pay as a result of the virus. We’ll also ask banks if, in an emergency, the same can be done regarding credit card interest.” Similar requests for emergency help will be made to landlords where tenants have lost their jobs. Read more here

 

POLITICS

TT On Lockdown

As part of Government's measures to prevent the spread of covid19, all non-nationals will be prohibited from entering TT for 14 days, announced the Prime Minister. "We are disconnecting ourselves from the international community for the next 14 days." He was speaking Monday at a post-Cabinet media briefing held at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain. "We have been engaged in seeking to exclude the virus from our country, and now to contain our healthy people in such a way that the virus will not move from person to person." He added: "To do this in the wider context we have to isolate ourselves from the supply of the virus from the source outside of TT." Dr Rowley explained there can be exemptions via the Health Ministry through the National Security Ministry. He noted, for example, that Carpha workers and health personnel will have to come in. Read more here

T&T allows returning nationals from COVID-hit regions

A number of people overseas trying to make their way back to Trinidad and Tobago are at high risk after being exposed to situations where they may be COVID-19 carriers, National Security Minister Stuart Young said yesterday. “We’re asking people to be personally responsible and not expose themselves to others to prevent increasing the transmission risk,” he added at yesterday’s briefing where Government urged a national response to guidelines to prevent COVID-19 spread. T&T already has four cases. Young said his ministry will be looking to enforce Government’s call for gatherings to be limited to 25 and under. “But don’t let it come to an enforcement,” he urged. On the 14-day ban on non-nationals’ entry, he said nationals and those with permanent T&T residency who were entering to the country would have to state where they’re coming from. He said the ban will also apply to yachties and vessels, including those from South America. Cargo ships will be allowed, though crews won’t be allowed to disembark. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Imbert projects $5b revenue drop

Finance Minister Colm Imbert is now projecting a revenue shortfall of over $5 billion for 2020 as a result of the dramatic collapse in oil prices, reduced revenue from natural gas and a decline in business activity expected to come due to COVID-19 preventative measures implemented by the Government yesterday. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

Guyana to shut borders

Following the lead of several other countries, Guyana is likely to close its borders and restrict air travel today as this country battles to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, the Guyana Chronicle was told. The official announcement is to be made before today. Several other countries have taken the same step. The 27-nation European Union proposed shutting its external borders for 30 days on Monday. On Saturday the Ministry of Public Health announced that some four persons have been tested positive with the virus. Read more here

Crowd Crackdown - $1m Fine Looms As Gov’t Bans Mass Gatherings, Closes Bars, Nightclubs

In a bid to contain the local spread of the COVID-19 disease, Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday announced a raft of restrictions including limiting gatherings in public spaces to 20 persons or fewer, prompting operators of KFC, Jamaica’s largest fast food chain, to implement changes to its operations. The restriction will be in place initially for a week starting tomorrow. Holness, while outlining the new ground rules at a press conference at Jamaica House following a Cabinet meeting, also ordered bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues closed during the period. However, he said that markets, supermarkets, restaurants, corner shops, pharmacies and gas stations will continue to be open, but said that social-distancing guidelines, with people one metre apart, should be observed. Markets will be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Restaurants of Jamaica (ROJ), which operates KFC and Pizza Hut in Jamaica, said it has already implemented changes to its operations since the virus was confirmed in Jamaica a week ago. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

IKEA to shut all stores in Germany

Furniture dealer Ikea will close all 53 of its stores in Germany from Tuesday in order to protect employees and inhibit the spread of coronavirus, the company confirmed in a statement sent to CNN. ‘’Current developments worldwide show that the situation can change on a daily basis. In this challenging situation, it is our aim to always act calmly and prudently and to live up to our responsibility as a large retailer. For this reason, we are closing all 53 furniture stores in Germany from today," reads the statement. Read more here

Coronavirus: Europe plans full border closure in virus battle

The European Commission is planning to ban all non-essential travel throughout Europe's Schengen free-travel zone as more countries close their borders to try to limit the spread of coronavirus. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she would ask leaders to implement the measures on Tuesday. "The less travel, the more we can contain the virus," she said. Meanwhile, tough new measures in France restricting movement from the home are coming into effect on Tuesday. Read more here

17th March 2020

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