Teams and officials are set to start arriving here Monday for the Caribbean Premier League scheduled to bowl off later this month but Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has assured the country that the staging of the Twenty20 franchise tournament will not pose a risk to public health amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Rowley, currently bidding for re-election in polls carded for August 10, stressed that the August 18 to September 10 event would be executed inside a “bubble” at the Hilton Hotel with all persons involved subjected to the rigorous protocols already in place.
“Everything that will go on around the CPL will go on in a bubble that does not interact with the national population,” Rowley said.
“[Arriving players and officials] would be coming into the country under the protocols of entry all having tested negative before. When they come here they are confined to the Hilton Hotel and that becomes a bubble for them.”
He added: “[These persons] will go to a venue to play the game where they will not interact with the population. So therefore the CPL is a bubble that has nothing to do with what goes on with the population in the country.”
Trinidad has been widely praised for its handling of the crisis, with only 173 confirmed cases and eight deaths so far recorded.
For the first time in its eight-year history, CPL matches are being played in one territory due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Some 33 matches are set to be played behind closed doors at Queen’s Park Oval in the capital here and at the Brian Lara Stadium in Couva, located in central Trinidad.
Players will be tested before departing their respective jurisdictions and then again on arrival here, and will spend the first two weeks quarantined.
CPL organisers said recently there had been close collaboration between their medical panel and the Trinidad and Tobago government and health authorities, in ensuring a safe bio-secure environment within which the tournament would take place.
“The CPL have worked with the Trinidad & Tobago Ministry of Health and the CPL’s own board of medical advisors to create protocols which minimize risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus to the population of Trinidad and in amongst those who will be travelling to Trinidad & Tobago from overseas,” organisers said.
“Teams and officials will be put into “households” where social distancing will need to be in place. There will be smaller clusters within each household where these measures can be relaxed.
“However, if any member of this cluster display signs of COVID-19 at any time during the tournament all members of that cluster will be expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time that a member of that group first shows symptoms.
“All members of the CPL party will be subject to regular temperature checks and will be re-tested for the virus throughout their stay in Trinidad and again before departure.”
Barbados Tridents, led by Test captain Jason Holder, will defend the title they won last year when they stunned Guyana Amazon Warriors in the final.
Three-time champions Trinbago Knight Riders along with St Lucia Zouks, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots and Jamaica Tallawahs, will contest the tournament.
TKR clash with Amazon Warriors in the tournament opener on August 18 at the Brian Lara Stadium.