Prime Minister Gaston Browne is now claiming that the decision to pull back his vaccination mandates – for students and workers – was taken out of compassion and mercy.
On Saturday, November 20, Browne said that businesses can accept unvaccinated workers, beginning December 1, provided that 80 per cent or more of their employees are inoculated.
The reason for his about-face, he says, is that he wants to prevent anyone from going hungry over the Christmas season. Had this decision not been made, many of them would have been on the breadline, he says.
Accordingly, Browne claims that his administration is people-centered and cares about residents’ welfare.
Browne says the vaccination mandates were not designed to create hardship for anyone. Rather, he posits that they were a call to duty, and intended to increase the rate of vaccination and achieve herd immunity in the shortest time.
Further, he claims the implementation of the mandates and the adjustment were deliberately timed.
The Prime Minister’s rationale for reversing the vaccination mandate has been met with derision in many circles. Most people believe that growing dissatisfaction and pushback by the public are the real reason for Browne’s about-face.
Last Tuesday, hundreds turned out to protest the “no jab, no school” mandate, while several members of the clergy took action to show their displeasure with how the religious exemption is being handled.
In addition, the United Progessive Party said the Browne Administration is clearing the way for electioneering, since general elections are imminent.
Meanwhile, although earlier reports said that Government will cover the cost of testing for unvaccinated public-sector workers, Browne now explains that it will be for one month only – until December 31, 2021. Thereafter, they will have to foot the bill themselves.
The Prime Minister says that Government is covering the cost only because these workers were unemployed for several months and might be unable to pay a private doctor.
In the private sector, however, the cost of testing will be on the employees – unless their employers decide to pay on behalf of their workers, Browne says.