Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 July 2021, 10:33 by Denis Chabrol
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Wednesday urged government to order frontline workers and persons seeking service from restaurants and entertainment services to prove that they have been vaccinated or were recently tested negative for the coronavirus.
“The Private Sector Commission further urges that the government require that all medical and security personnel in frontline contact with other persons must either be vaccinated or provide evidence of a medically current COVID-19 negative test,” the umbrella business organisation said in a statement.
That umbrella business organisation said it embraces and recommends that its member companies require that all those of its “employees who refuse to be vaccinated must provide evidence of a medically current COVID-19 negative test from infection before reporting to work, while continuing to encourage all of its employees to become vaccinated.”
The PSC, however, stayed clear of saying whether unvaccinated workers without tests should be considered absent and penalised according to the applicable law, as is the case in the sister Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state, Belize.
The PSC also called on the Guyana government to order “all places” providing hospitality and entertainment services, including restaurants, “require evidence of either vaccination or a medically current COVID-19 negative test from its customers in order for them to receive service.”
Expressing “increasing concern” about the growing number of COVID-19 infections and deaths of persons who were not fully vaccinated, the PSC said it backed the positions taken by Belize and France that persons should get vaccinated or be required to submit weekly negative tests at their own cost to be allowed at work or be considered absent and face disciplinary action. In that regard, the PSC said it supported the stance taken by Health Ministerial Adviser Dr. Leslie Ramsammy that all countries should follow France’s approach to fighting the dreaded virus that has so far killed more than 500 Guyanese.
“The Private Sector Commission is ready and willing to support all and any action taken by our government that will serve to protect our population from the surge of this pandemic, inclusive of a comprehensive policy to be ‘gazetted’, which will ensure that vaccinated citizens are protected against exposure from those who exercise the freedom to refuse to be vaccinated,” the PSC said.
The PSC said it noted that there is extensive and growing judicial opinion within the Caribbean and internationally that individual rights do not override the collective right of the community when the community as a whole is threatened.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall, speaking on his weekly Social Media presentation noted that University of the West Indies Law Professor Rosemarie Antoine has said that compulsory vaccination would not be illegal. “If the govt was to impose a mandatory obligation of citizens to take the vaccines, the government will not be violating the fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens,” he said.
He said travel restrictions by aircraft would be extended to public buildings as part of the approach by public policy to guide the law to ensure the safety of citizens.