(CMC)— Prime Minister Gaston Browne has warned public servants who fail to take a vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19) that they will be subject to regular testing at their own cost.
He said that Cabinet is close to making a decision on the matter.
“Governments have to move to protect people from themselves. We have a responsibility to ensure that the workplace is free of COVID, to provide a healthy working environment for workers in this country including those in the public sector.
“If the vaccination process continues to be slow we will take that decision and this is not about trying to create any hardships for people, this is about managing an increased risk of possible hospitalisation and deaths as a result of a COVID strain…
“For us to try now and create a false sense of security because you don’t want to upset the al a carte, you don’t want to get in the bad books of our supporters or even those who may not support us,” he said, insisting that he is standing behind the policy, which has already been rolled out for tourism and front line workers who have not yet been vaccinated.
Browne said that public servants who are not vaccinated could be subjected to “presenting a negative PCR test twice monthly at their own cost”
“In fact I wish that back in December, the decision we took to send everybody to Jolly Beach, I wish we that we had effected that. We kind of relented based on the push back even when we said we were limiting socialisation to 10 persons.
‘We got a lot of abuse, luckily we did not relax it so that in itself would have helped to reduce some of socialisations and prevented some of the spread because when you look at the fact that in the BVI (British Virgin Islands) with half of our population and they have 1,600 active cases, just imagine if we did not have some measure of control in place,” he added.
Antigua and Barbuda has so far given first doses of vaccines to 65,757 people, with 28,665 of those considered fully vaccinated having received their second jab.
Last week, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves warned that public sector workers who are not willing to take a vaccine to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be required to test regularly to prove their status.
In addition, he said, they will have to meet the cost of the test.
“You have to pay for it because what happens is this, some employers, and they must speak the truth about it …are saying you either get vaccinated or come with a COVID test every Monday morning,” Gonsalves said on the state-owned NBC Radio.