13 May COVID-19 UPDATE: ‘STAY AT HOME’ AND ESSENTIAL SERVICES REGULATIONS ISSUED
By the Public Health [2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No. 5) Regulations 2020 the Government of Trinidad and Tobago ordered that from Monday 30th March 2020 until Wednesday 15th April 2020, individuals must not be at work unless (a) their workplace is included among the list of ‘essential’ services set out in the said regulations (b) their presence is essential for the carrying on of this ‘essential’ service and (c) it is not practicable for them to work from home. The regulations were updated on several occasions, with the latest amended and consolidated version being contained in the Public Health [2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No 16) Regulations 2020 (the ‘Regulations’). These latest Regulations have begun the ease of the “stay-at-home” restrictions by including several types of retail services as ‘essential’ services which are permitted to be carried out. Notwithstanding this ease, the stay-at-home period applicable to all services which remain “non-essential” remains in force until June 26th 2020.
The penalty for breaching the Regulations is a fine of up to fifty thousand dollars and imprisonment for a term of up to six months.
The list of ‘essential’ services set out in the original regulations is extensive. Some of the workers and workplaces that were initially included are:
1. Government ministries
2. Tax and government revenue collection
3. The Judiciary, the High Court and other judicial bodies
4. Protective services
5. Legal services
6. Health services
7. Production and supply of medical supplies and equipment
8. Primary emergency services e.g. ambulances
9. Private security services
10. Certain janitorial and maintenance services
11. Work supporting the operation and maintenance of certain public works
12. Certain social services
13. Waste disposal
15. Financial and insurance services
16. Retailers and wholesalers of food, medicine and other necessities of life
17. Support services for groceries, pharmacies and retailers of food and beverage
18. Certain services relating to food, beverage, agriculture, and fisheries
19. Certain manufacturing, transportation and logistics services
20. Newspapers and media houses
21. Energy services including electricity, petroleum, and petrochemicals
22. Certain manufacturing
23. Chemical services
24. Hotels, guest houses or eco-lodges
25. Construction workers and services engaged in the construction of health care facilities and the Couva interchange.
This list has now been expanded and a full list of ‘essential’ workplaces can be found in the Public Health [2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No 16) Regulations 2020. Apart from those specifically listed, the Minister may also authorise the carrying on any trade, profession, business or service, activity or public gathering.
Before requiring employees to report for work, employers should carefully consider:
- Whether their operations fall within the ‘essential’ categories
- Whether and to what extent their employees can practically work from home
For those employees that are required to report for work, employers should consider providing them with a letter of authorisation stating:
- The nature of the employer’s business
- The nature of the employee’s work and in particular that (a) they are essential to the operations of the business and (b) the work they are required to perform cannot be practically carried out at home.
Employees should also be advised to have at least one form of National ID on them at all times.
April 16 Update: Regulation No. 5 was repealed. The Regulations in which these restrictions are now prescribed is the Public Health  Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (“Regulation No. 10”).
April 19 Update: Note that Regulation No. 10 has been repealed and replaced by the Public Health  Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No. 11) Regulations 2020.
April 20 Update: Note that Regulation No. 10 has been repealed and revoked by the Public Health  Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No. 12) Regulations 2020.
April 25 Update: Note that Regulation No. 11 has been repealed and revoked by Public Health  Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No. 12) Regulations 2020.
May 10 Update: Note that Regulation No. 12 has been repealed and revoked by Public Health  Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No. 13) Regulations 2020. Construction works related to food production and agriculture have been included among the “essential services”.
May 12 Update: Note that Regulation No. 13 has been repealed and revoked by Public Health  Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No. 14) Regulations 2020 by which trade union services was added to the list of essential services.
June 1 Update: Note that Regulation No.15 has been repealed and revoked by Regulation No. 16 (linked above). Professionals such as engineers, architects, valuators assessors, land, quantity and other surveyors are now included and may provide services until 6 pm daily. General retail services can be opened, until 6 pm daily. The National Lotteries Control Board’s business can resume but must close at 6pm daily.
For further information, contact M. Hamel-Smith & Co at Covid19@trinidadlaw.com.