Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley's Media Conference On COVID-19: Saturday December 18th 2021

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced that come mid-January 2022, Government workplaces will require Vaccinated Workers. Measures will be put in place to identify this status in public sector workers, and exceptions will be made for those with medical reasons for not taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who refuse to take the vaccine without good reason will be furloughed/not paid.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the Public Service, apart from workers in the Essential Services, will be shut down from December 24th, 2021, to January 2nd, 2022. Prime Minister Rowley appealed to unvaccinated workers to use this period to get vaccinated, and for vaccinated workers to get their booster. He said this shutdown is not an invitation to congregate.

The Prime Minister also announced that beach visits for therapeutic purposes will begin from Monday December 20th, 2021.
BEACH TIME: 5AM to 12 Noon.
- No alcohol on a public beach.
- No loud music.
- No partying.
- Beachgoers must wear a mask once they are not in the water.

PM Rowley said if all goes well, a further review will be done to open the beaches for a longer period.

Rivers, ponds, and other bodies of water remain CLOSED at this time.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed that there are now three known cases of the Omicron variant in T&T. All three cases came via travel.
- On Monday, the first case was detected in a passenger who came in from a flight via Panama.
- A second case came via a flight that was diverted to Puerto Rico earlier this week due to a medical emergency. The Minister said on arrival to T&T, the 16 vaccinated passengers from the flight were isolated and retested, with one coming back Positive for the Omicron variant.
- The third case was detected in a passenger who came via a flight from Miami on December 8th. The Health Minister said the person is vaccinated and had a Negative PCR Test. However, the person turned symptomatic on December 10th and got tested. The person is currently in isolation with a member of their household.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram stated that the Ministry of Health is looking to establish a Mass Site in the Felicity area for storage of bodies of persons who succumbed to COVID-19. Additional sites are also being looked into in an effort to treat with the number of bodies awaiting burial.
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