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…if absent for seven days
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Inspectorate has issued a notice to ranks and civilians informing them that they will experience non-issuance of their salaries if they are absent for a total of seven days due to their inability to present a COVID-19 vaccination card or a negative PCR test to enter any military base.
Effective Monday, July 19, 2021, the GDF issued an Order that 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. Only persons officially excused from vaccination by the Force Medical Officer are exempted from the requirement.
An additional notice from the RSM Inspectorate stated: “…Ranks or Civilians who cannot gain access to any military base or installation due to the absence of a vaccination card or PCR neg test, those persons are to be carried absent at the unit lines until they can show evidence of the above mentioned. Subsequently, seven days of absence should result in stoppages of salaries. You are therefore encouraged to ensure compliance. Please note that any defiance of the above will result in disciplinary actions being taken against you!”
Presently, COVID-19 vaccination is free in Guyana and is being made available to the public through the Ministry of Health. Meanwhile, PCR tests come at a cost at private medical institutions.
Over time, the military has been subtly applying pressure on soldiers to take the vaccines. In June, unvaccinated warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers of the Guyana Defence Force were summoned to a meeting with the Chief-of-staff. They were cautioned that those who are refusing the vaccines will be interviewed and told of “disincentives that will follow and possible sanctioning by the Force.”
Also in June, the GDF bypassed unvaccinated soldiers for father’s day hampers and threatened that those who do not take the COVID vaccines may have to produce a negative test every two weeks.
COVID-19 vaccination or the provision of a negative PCR test has since become mandatory to access some services in Guyana or to work at certain Government Ministries and private establishments.