People in Tobago cautious but welcome the mask-mandate removal

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At Pigeon Point on Tuesday, the Khan and Maharaj families welcomed the lifting of the mask mandate, but said they would still take precaution under certain conditions. – David Reid

The lifting of the mask mandate after two years has been described as a breath of fresh air by some people who were interviewed by Newsday on Tuesday.

Owing to the covid19 pandemic, people were required to wear masks, face coverings or face shields in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

However, from last Sunday, this restriction was removed with certain limitations, allowing people to be able to move about freely and interact in businesses, restaurants and on the streets without fear of being fined for breaching the public health protocols.

The majority of people were still seen wearing masks on the streets on Tuesday.

When Newsday visited the Store Bay beach facility, a beachgoer said, “This is a breath of fresh air, so we’re enjoying this moment.” She said the mask mandate removal was long overdue.

Now allowed to be in public without wearing a mask, some in Scarborough said they would choose not to if outdoors, but will mask-up if in a crowd or confined space. – David Reid

La Romaine resident Muhammed Ahmed said he would continue masking.

“I would be 60 in August, and I want to protect myself. I have to protect myself; I want to live for my children, even my grandchildren maybe.”

While at Pigeon Point, a south Trinidad family was seen enjoying the moment. Kimberly Biran said she would continue to wear her mask.

“We’re on the beach now so no mask is fine, but going back to Trinidad and in confined spaces I personally would continue to wear my mask.

“It is scary, but I think once you take the necessary precautions, you’ll be fine.”

Mitra Maharaj, also of south Trinidad, shared similar sentiments.

“The removal of the mandate with mask-wearing in public spaces is a welcomed move, but it really comes down to taking precautionary measures still. When you’re in an enclosed environment, we definitely would keep our mask on especially with us and the kids.”

However, he has some nervousness especially in light of the reported presence of the omicron BA5 variant, which has been detected in TT among 20 samples sent for genomic testing at the University of the West Indies.

“It is something to be concerned about, but I trust in God and try to mitigate it as best as I can.”

In Scarborough, Ronnie Patrick, whose mask was under his chin, said he would continue to wear his, while his partner Sindy Khan-Patrick said the responsibility is now a personal one.

Some people in Scarborough, Tobago still opted to wear their masks on Tuesday even though the legal requirement to do so has been lifted. – David Reid

“The mandate has been removed, but it is now up to us as individuals to protect ourselves,” Khan-Patrick said.

At a nearby grocery, customers were seen entering with their masks properly affixed, and sanitising upon entry.

One customer said: “I thought there would have been more people without it, but we’re seeing people wearing their masks and sanitising just as before. I think everyone just wants to remain safe.”

Another customer said he was better able to breathe without the mask, but would wear it if he was travelling in a taxi or in any crowded place for his own protection.

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