Acting Attorney General Wilfred Abrahams has given the assurance that all concerns raised by the public regarding their freedom of choice to take COVID-19 vaccines will be scrutinised and a fair solution found before Government puts forward a position on the issue.
He gave this undertaking last night during the second in a series of town hall meetings on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing at the Princess Margaret Secondary School, Six Cross Roads, St. Philip.
Mr. Abrahams was responding to a query raised by a member of the audience, who raised the issue of employers requesting their employees to be vaccinated, or be “PCR-tested every two weeks, 72 hours before their next shift”.
The audience member said that such a situation was burdensome on “an everyday person in the working class”, who “probably works for $350 to $400 a week”.
He contended: “We know that legally, the employer cannot take that position because the employer cannot coerce or suggest that a person take any medical procedure or any test. This is something that we know unequivocally in law that this is not so…. This is something that needs to be addressed.”
In response, the Acting Attorney General explained that Government was trying to apply pre-COVID 19 legislation to a COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 situation in a scenario where the existing laws “did not contemplate a situation such as this”.
Mr. Abrahams added: “This is an evolving, dynamic situation, but you know what? Coming out of this, there may be new laws…. There may be legal perspectives. Someone said recently that the fastest way to determine this is to put it in a court and let the judges decide. But what we are doing here, we are taking all of the concerns that are voiced here; we are taking all of the questions; we are taking all of the interventions, and we are looking at all of them, then trying to balance the interests of the ordinary person with the interests of business with the interests of health, with the interests of the rest of Barbados.”
Acknowledging that Government may not end up with a strict legal position, he stressed that the discussions were key to agreeing on a solution that was acceptable by all.
“Quite frankly, your lawyer might look at a law and say this is what applies. My lawyer might look at the exact same law and say something else. That’s why people get opinions; opinions help to inform a discussion. Right now, we are trying to accommodate and hear all the views so that we can come up, if possible, with an agreed position or a position agreed by the majority of Barbados, as to how we proceed, in what is a dynamic and evolving situation,” he emphasised. The Acting Attorney General continued: “Right now, there are no right answers to this; we are trying to find a way forward. And there are some comments that you made in there that have been noted. And I think that will help us significantly in framing what it is that we do, especially with respect to your concern about the cost of the vaccines, and whether or not it is really an acceptable option if the person can’t afford it. These are things that we want to hear…. These are things that we are noting and these are the things that will help us to inform the policy that comes out of this.”