Guyana's Opposition livid as tough new COVID-19 measures take effectTuesday, September 07, 2021
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (CMC) – Business establishments in Guyana yesterday began implementing new measures outlined by the Government, including that anyone entering public buildings, as well as private businesses and places of worship, must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.
But the Opposition has instead called on the Government to convene a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss what it described as the “authoritarian” measures and a way forward.
The Government, in its September 4, 2021 gazetted COVID-19 Order# 193/2021, noted that where a person is unvaccinated an appointment will be necessary, and that the person must present a negative molecular PCR test taken within seven days of the appointment.
It also said that only negative molecular biological PCR test results from a laboratory approved by the Ministry of Health will be accepted.
Republic Bank (Guyana) says it is enforcing the new measures while the Giftland Group said it is planning to adjust to the new restrictions that will take effect on Thursday.
“Despite 99 per cent of the Giftland Group employees being vaccinated, this timeline will allow the store owners, employees, mall workers, suppliers and customers to become fully compliant in the shortest time possible without disruption of business, and to ensure a smooth transition for complete compliance with the new regulations,” the group said in a statement.
“Our patrons are advised to walk with their vaccination cards and a valid ID card/licence to gain entry at the mall, as this will be a primary requirement by law. Step-by-step verification will be done to ensure everyone in the mall adheres to these news rules, and if anyone is in possession or produces false documents they will be sent to the relevant authorities.
“We would like to thank all of our patrons, employees and citizens that [have] made an effort since the vaccine roll-out, addressing misinformation and building trust in the public health systems that delivers the vaccines. We're all in this together and only together can we can bring hope to end the pandemic and to resume [some] sort of normalcy and [our] livelihood,” it added.
But not all businesses are supportive of the move. Businesses across Linden, the second-largest city after the capital, have closed their doors as the town protests against forced vaccinations.
In addition the Opposition coalition – a Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) – described as authoritarian the latest move by the Government.
In a statement APNU+AFC said the updated measure runs contrary to all the tenets of personal liberties, including an individual's freedom of conscience as enshrined in Article 147 of the Guyana Constitution.
Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, who is also the coalition's Member of Parliament, said the measure represents the erosion of the rights of the citizens and imposes executive tyranny on the citizens of Guyana.
He said it shows that the ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) remains without a plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 and is implementing ad hoc, arbitrary and whimsical measures designed to advance profiteering and which completely disregard the rights of citizens.
Forde noted that Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries have pointedly refused to adopt measures that the Guyanese Government is seeking to implement.
The Opposition said it is urging the Government to immediately rescind the measure, which it sees as “unconstitutional”, and immediately engage in an emergency stakeholders' forum to chart a “prudent and responsible” national COVID-19 management plan.
“We call on the PPP to take note of the decision of the prime minister of Jamaica, who has engaged the leader of the Opposition there, to meet on the issue of the rampant spread of COVID in that country. We call on the PPP to follow suit post-haste.
“The PPP must immediately cease and desist from the wild and reckless approach it has adopted which only benefits its acolytes and financiers and leaves the people of the nation isolated, locked out, and vulnerable,” the APNU+AFC statement said.