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Shellorn Ballantyne

Shefflorn Ballantyne. (Photo: Facebook)

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By Shefflorn Ballantyne

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves repeatedly declares that we’re not better than anybody and nobody is better than us. Well, you will think that he would ensure such a philosophy is woven into every fabric of his government’s policies. But it is not. 

Recently, Minister of Tourism Carlos James announced that all COVID-19 protocols, which were imposed on travellers to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, have been lifted.  You remember Carlos James? He was the minister who in 2021 told his constituents that vaccination will be required to enter any government managed emergency shelter. These citizens were desperately fleeing our raging volcano in hopes of finding a place of safety. The nation was outraged. 

James told a press conference on Oct. 31, 2022:

“All protocols which had been introduced in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted, so there is expected to be a free flow of visitors disembarking the ships and moving throughout the country.” 

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To be clear – foreign nationals can enter my country, move around and interact with Vincentians and will not be subject to vaccination requirement, testing requirement or quarantining requirement. Not even mandatory masking is in place. 

Now, compare that with what is demanded of teachers who wish to get their jobs back after being fired under the unscientific and asinine mandate of 2021. The following is an extract from a memo dated Aug. 2, 2022 from the Chief Personnel Officer detailing the government-imposed restriction on unvaccinated teachers:

“Mandatory and correct use of appropriate facial masks in the workplace at all times. 

Adequate physical spacing. 

Mandatory testing for Covid-19 infection at a frequency to be determined by the Chief Medical Officer. Unvaccinated workers will be provided with the first four (4) tests free of charge; however, all subsequent tests will be at the individual’s expense. 

Testing of an approved brand, must be presented weekly and first test should be presented on the first day of work and by the second working day of each week thereafter.”

In other words, unvaccinated Vincentians are restricted in our own country by protocols that are not binding on foreigners entering the islands. We are required to agree to weekly testing, masking up at all times and physical distancing or we cannot enter a classroom to teach. As to foreign tourists – no such restrictions exist. This discrimination reflects the unscientific thinking of this government at a time when the science dictates that all covid protocols should be abolished. 

Prime Minister Gonsalves often says that the highest office in the land is that of citizenship. Where is this reflected in his policies? It is clearly not the official position of his Government.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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