T&T Gov’t Seeks Extension Of SOE As COVID Cases Surge

(CMC) — Trinidad and Tobago government is expected to use its majority in Parliament on Monday as it seeks a three-month extension of the state of emergency (SOE) imposed here on May 15 as part of the efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has infected 18,227 people and killed 341 since March last year.

The government needs just a simple majority in the Lower house to approve the measure that also includes an eight-hour curfew.

According to the Order paper, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, will also table a motion calling on legislators to take note of the statement made by President Paula-Mae Weekes on May 15, in accordance with Section 9(1) of the Constitution, declaring the public emergency and issuing a proclamation to that effect.

The motion said within three days of this proclamation, the president will deliver a statement to Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George and the House should debate the statement no later than May 30.

“In recent weeks there has been a surge in the number of persons infected with covid19, an intensifying of symptoms, a lengthening of the period of infection, and a troubling increase in the number of deaths attributed to the virus,” President Weekes said in her May 17 letter to the Speaker.

She said while many citizens are adhering to the public health regulations “others across the board have failed to follow the guidelines and protocols intended to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

“It is either they have not received the messaging or are unable or unwilling to abide by it,” the head of state said, adding however that she was confident that the country’s best hope of “stemming the tide” of the increased cases of the virus to vaccinate sufficient number of members of the population.

“I am satisfied that the outbreak of the infection disease COVID-19 with its deleterious effects on the health of our citizenry provides grounds on which I could and should declare the existence of a state of public emergency.”

Prime Minister Rowley will also table a motion noting that the SOE has been enacted in accordance with Section 8 and 9 (2) of the Constitution and that unless previously revoked, it will remain in force for 15 days.

The motion states that in accordance with Section 10 (1) of the Constitution, the proclamation of the SOE can be extended before it expires, by a resolution supported by a simple majority vote of the House, for a period of three months.

The government controls 22 of the 41 seats in the Parliament.