President Dr Irfaan Ali on Wednesday urged responsibility and understanding of the national Covid-19 measures, noting that tough decisions had to be made in the interest of the population.
He was responding to reports that several trade unions have approached the High Court to challenge the measures which were put in place to protect the population.
“It’s their democratic rights to go to the court…my thoughts are that, all of us, regardless of where we sit, have the responsibility to understand the public health issue and if we understand the public health issue, and the implication that lies ahead…Look what’s happening in many countries in the region with Delta. Many of the countries are running out of oxygen and if we understand this and the public health implications of this, I’m sure we’ll all make the right decision,” President Ali said.
The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and their umbrella body, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Tuesday asked the High Court to quash the Covid-19 Emergency Measures (No. 20) Notice dated the 29th day of July, 2021 and published in the Extraordinary Publication of the Official Gazette dated the 29th day of July, 2021.
Among their main contention is the national vaccination policy, whereby several categories of workers have been mandated to take the jabs, or otherwise, produce regular PCR tests.
But the Unions are arguing that this policy amounts to coercion.
However, President Ali pointed out that vaccination is not mandatory in Guyana.
“We have not made vaccination mandatory. What we have done is to say that in order to secure people who are vaccinated and have a safe work environment – and part of the labour relations is to have a safe work environment – if unvaccinated persons have a greater possibility of creating an unsafe environment, then you have to make decisions,” the President said.
To date, over 60% of the adult population has taken a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.