Govt imposes stiff COVID vaccine requirements

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…to enter ministries, gov’t agencies
…vaccination also mandated for transportation operators, conductors and casinos, betting shop and cinema users

By Lisa Hamilton

The Government of Guyana has placed restrictions on persons visiting a Ministry or Government Agency to access a service in that they must now be vaccinated to enter the premises or access the service only through appointment.

This instruction was included in the July 29, 2021, gazetted COVID-19 Emergency Measures. Under the section: ‘Access to Services offered by a Ministry or Government Agency’, it states:

“Subject to subparagraph (2), a member of the public who wishes to enter a Ministry or Government Agency to access a service shall be vaccinated. Where a member of the public is unvaccinated, that person may only access the service in person by appointment.”

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Government Ministries across Guyana are visited by hundreds of Guyanese daily. Agencies such as the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) see scores of persons weekly.

VACCINATION FOR TRANSPORTATION OPERATORS, CONDUCTORS

Within the updated measures, there are also restrictions to domestic transportation operators and conductors requiring them to be vaccinated. Under ‘Domestic and International Travel’, the measure states: “…in order to transport members of the public, every operators and conductor of any public transportation service shall be vaccinated and have in their possession an official identification document and their vaccination card, and shall produce these documents when requested to do so by a police officer or any person authorised by the Minister of Health.”

VACCINATION FOR CINEMA, CASINO USERS

Added to this, there has also been special guidance included for casinos, betting shops and cinemas which are only permitted to operate at 40 percent capacity and admit vaccinated persons.

“The operator of the casinos, betting shop and cinema shall ensure that (a) only vaccinated patrons are at their place of business and those patrons have in their possession an official identification document and their vaccination card which they shall produce when requested to do so by the operator or any person authorized by the Ministry of Health,” the measures state, along with other restrictions.

It is noted that any operator of a casino, betting shop or cinema who contravenes the restrictions commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction.

The final notable change within the measures comes under ‘Offence’. It states that if an operator of any business does not comply with the measures or guidelines that apply to them within the document, the Ministry of Health may issue a written warning and, if the operator remains non-compliant, suspend the operator’s business for no more than 30 days.

The gazetted measures were signed by Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony.

MOUNTING PRESSURE

Discussions about increasing the vaccination campaign push are being had at the highest levels in Guyana. Recently, Advisor to the Minister of Health in Guyana, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said that there should be consequences for persons who refuse to be COVID-19 vaccinated.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has since expressed agreement noting its support for businesses making it mandatory for employees to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Only recently, Giftland OfficeMax announced that effective immediately, all of its employees must be fully COVID-19 vaccinated to continue working or submit a weekly negative COVID-19 PCR test. Other private sector businesses have done the same.

Before then, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) enforced an Order that effective July 19, 2021, all ranks and civilians who are unvaccinated must present a negative COVID-19 test every 14 days at their own expense. Failure to do so would result in disciplinary action.

Regarding travel, on July 26, Dr. Anthony said that soon Guyana will be implementing “explicit travel instructions” in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. His announcement came not long after the country implemented a mandatory ‘vaccination passport’ for non-nationals coming through Trinidad and Tobago.

As it stands, Guyana has already vaccinated over 50 percent of its population with the first dose or approximately 250,000. Over 138,000 have had their second dose.

Guyana’s COVID-19 deaths stand at 535 with over 22,000 cases. The Government said that it is working stringently towards achieving herd immunity for the benefit of citizens.



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