Although major economic activity is set to resume on Monday and will include increased flights by Caribbean Airlines as the air-bridge opens up, this country's borders will remain closed for the time being.
However, National Security Minister Stuart Young said exemptions continue to be granted for nationals who remain outside of T&T, as well as those wanting to leave T&T to return to their home countries.
During Saturday's media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said discussions were underway with health officials as it related to the "commercial repatriation" of citizens.
He said, "We have a steam of people on the outside who want to come in."
Even though they initially started with no entry and then moved very slowly to allow small numbers back in, Rowley said, "We want to move a little more aggressively to bring categories of people in."
Warning that stringent control still needed to be exercised, Rowley admitted, "The biggest threat to us now as a nation in responding to the virus is getting infected by an inflow of people from the outside, into this population."
Empathising with those on the outside who continue to appeal for permission to return to T&T, the prime minister said, "We make the decision at the border based on how many people we think we can safely bring in and sufficiently manage the risk, that if there is infection by persons coming or by community spread here, that we do have the health infrastructure to cope with the numbers that could flare up."
He spoke about the Government's decision to bring in 275 students who are scattered across the region and will complete exams by the end of July.
Rowley said in order to ensure the mandatory two-week quarantine period was adhered to, they had to keep their eyes on the availability of beds to house returning nationals.
"For those people who can fund themselves to get in quickly, we will cooperate a bit more with them to get them in, but against the background of how that has an impact on the rooms that are available because there are different categories of rooms," Rowley said.
Claiming that any upsurge in the viral spread locally would impact the repatriation process, Rowley said it would lead to a reduction in the numbers returning and for those coming from areas where the virus is widespread. He said careful checks had to be done to safeguard the local population from infection.
He said the moves to bring in external students and nationals from cruise ships would place T&T in a position where most of the available capacity would be used up, even though it is only for quarantine.
Young said even though discussions had been held with cruise ship operators, they were still unclear exactly how many T&T nationals were stranded on such vessels.
Revealing one cruise ship operator recently agreed for the boat to be used as a quarantine facility, Young said they were concerned after eight people tested positive for COVID-19 on a cruise ship in St Vincent.
He said if that ship comes in, they would decant people to a land-use system in batches, which required a lot of careful management.
The parallel health system has a total bed capacity of 922, which includes 200 beds at Couva; 100 beds at Caura; and between 50 to 60 beds at the Augustus Long facility which are all hospital-type settings. The are beds spread across several step-down and quarantine facilities.
Young, Deyalsingh and the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram are scheduled to meet this coming week to discuss how they could extend capacity outside of the hospital settings.
Up to 4 pm yesterday, tests submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the UWI Lab stood at 3,131 and 1,300 community tests have so far been conducted.