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Simone Keizer Beache

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache. (iWN file photo)

The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines continued to mandate COVID-19 vaccination and testing for certain categories of workers because this is what Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache has advised.

“In two areas, one critical area, teaching, … because we have children and, of course, the requirement in respect of vaccines is still in for the health workers, for the nurses,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday.

“All COVID-19 related travel restrictions have been lifted in SVG.

As of Sept. 18, 2022, SVG no longer requires air or sea passengers traveling from a foreign country to SVG to show a negative COVID-19 test before they board their flight or to have proof of quarantine arrangements.

Despite this, unvaccinated teachers who are re-employed by the government are required to test every week.

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“That’s the advice from the Health Services Subcommittee of NEMO headed by the Chief Medical Officer and she performs her role under the law in that advisory capacity,” Gonsalves said.

“And it has appeared to the Cabinet to be sensible advice — or put it this way, it is not unreasonable advice.”

RalPH GONSALVES
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking at the press conference in Kingstown on Oct. 4, 2022.

The prime minister continued:

“I tell you something: when somebody is obliged, in law, to advise me, I am very careful not to reject reasonable advice, even if it’s advice, which I may not agree with.”

Gonsalves said the government felt that in the educational system “it’s a matter which is felt in the circumstances to still have formally in place.

“We could have a debate on it, but it’s a question of and you may not agree with it, but I don’t think you can reasonably say that an advice which is so tendered is unreasonable.”

He said that often, “there is a sense that if you don’t agree with something, that what you do not agree with is unreasonable. It may be unreasonable, but not necessarily unreasonable,” the prime minister said.

SVG ‘s kind of alternate reality’

Last month, the Public Service Union (PSU) called on the government to scrap the testing requirement for unvaccinated public sector workers.

“… people are learning to live with that (COVID-19) but in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a kind of alternate reality,” the union’s president, Elroy Boucher, told a press conference.

“Because while the government has lifted all restrictions, you still have a vaccine mandate in place,” he said.

Boucher pointed out that the prime minister has said that the public health emergency is still in effect.

“Most of the Caribbean countries have actually done away with their state of emergencies. Because everybody realised that you’re going back to normal, and you’re learning to cope with what is happening.”

Elroy Boucher 1
President of PUblic Service Union, Elroy Boucher speaking at the press conference in Kingstown on Sept. 20, 2022.

He said that the government was calling for better relations with trade unions, “but at the same time, what is outstanding is this injustice that has been meted out to public servants and teachers”.

He was referring to the hundreds of public sector workers, including teachers, nurses and police officers dismissed for failing to take a COVID-19 vaccine last December.

“So, you’re lifting everything, but the one thing that you’re supposed to be lifting, which is the vaccine mandate, repealing SR&O 28, you’re not doing that,” Boucher said.

“And at this particular point in time, it has nothing to do with the pandemic; it has nothing to do with COVID. It is purely one of ego… 

“And I think the honourable thing for the prime minister and his Cabinet to do is to repeal RS&O 28.”

The court is expected to try on Nov. 29 a lawsuit that the PSU, Teachers’ Union and Police Welfare Association have brought against the government for firing workers for failing to take a COVID-19 vaccine by last December.

“You don’t need to wait on the court to really do it. … it shows a great level of maturity to recognise that of all governments in the Caribbean, you’re the only one who fired public servants, for not being vaccinated. … So clearly, you can’t be right, clearly, you’re wrong,” Boucher said.

“And it takes a big man to know that you’re wrong with some humility.”

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4 replies on “CMO advises keeping vaccine mandate, testing unvaxxed teachers — PM”

  1. Ar yo right fo treat dem so, ah dem gee ar yo the authority to treat dem so. Ah plenty ah dem bin block road.

  2. He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for [ his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly ].

    (2 Chronicles 22 vs 3)

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