Strict new Covid rules hit public sector workers in the wallet, Gov’t says residents have a ‘social responsibility’ to get a jab – but union cries foul

by Gemma Handy
Fear of reversing recent gains to tourism and the economy are being cited by the government as the reason for unveiling its most stringent rules yet to encourage more people to get a Covid jab.

Forthcoming moves to force frontline public sector staff to cough up for twice-monthly virus tests – or stay home unpaid – sparked an outcry on social media within minutes of being announced yesterday.

But the government hopes that hitting workers in their wallets will deliver the impetus needed to help the nation reach much-touted herd immunity.

The news – confirmed at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing – came hours after it was revealed that active Covid cases had hit double digits for the first time in almost two months.

The tough new stance affects a multitude of employees, from immigration and customs workers to port health staff, including greeters and medics, plus police, defence force and emergency personnel.

People who work in cruise tourism, such as taxi drivers and vendors, had already been warned they would be required to take regular tests at their own expense in lieu of getting vaccinated.

But the measure is now being extended into the civil service too, with costs likely to tot up to EC$300 a month for the two tests.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas told the media yesterday that residents have a “social responsibility” to ensure they do not spread the potentially deadly virus.

“If persons choose not to take the vaccine and they resist the requirement for dual monthly tests then they will be asked to stay at home with no pay,” he confirmed. Read More ….

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