Good news for Trinidad and Tobago's nationals stranded on cruise liners begging to come home.
Yesterday, in an about-turn, Minister of National Security Stuart Young announced a decision to allow T&T seafarers to return home before the borders are officially reopened.
The decision came even as T&T was declared COVID-free - but with a warning not to get complacent.
The fact is that all patients who had tested positive have been treated and are now back home. Nobody has tested positive for COVID-19 in more than a month and T&T’s death rate from the virus remains at eight.
That is indeed good news. But it does not mean that all is well and citizens have been urged to remain alert and do all that is required to ensure we stay that way.
There are thousands of T&T nationals stranded across the globe, from India to New York to Florida and up the islands of the Caribbean.
The reopening of the borders is expected to be the last phase of the reopening process and understandably so. After all, it was because of a number of factors, including locking down our borders so early in the game, that we are at the point that we are today.
There is no doubt that it is a difficult time for citizens and their families uncertain of when they will be allowed back home. The nation felt some of that when one crew member of the Disney Fantasy, Nalini Durgah, admitted that her heart broke when the vessel came 12 miles off T&T's north coast to refuel yesterday.
It was a case of so close and yet so far away. Looking yearningly at the Trinidad landmass as the vessel they were on was being refuelled, Durgah and 49 other T&T nationals stranded at sea since March had bittersweet feelings as they had not yet been given the all-clear for entry.
But in about-turn to an earlier policy hours later, Minister Young announced that the borders will be opened to allow those on cruise ships to return home on a “regulated and scheduled basis.”
It is understandable that things have to be done in a regulated and streamlined way. And we hope that T&T nationals stranded in various parts of the world will be allowed to come home and soon.
Trinidad and Tobago, from all accounts, has not just flattened the curve but reached the point of no more confirmed cases.
We hope, however, that the testing will not stop. Without it, we will never know. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on economies across the globe and even on our own economy where so many people are now unemployed and which has put a heavy, additional cost on the national treasury. We thus also hope that the Ministry of Health and healthcare officials will keep up the good work and maintain their intensity in the fight to ensure the virus is kept away.