Press conference with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley following a meeting of the Social Partnership – July 27, 2021. (PMO)

Attorney General Dale Marshall has been tasked with preparing a legal opinion to advise on mandatory testing and vaccination, by early August.

This was disclosed yesterday by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley during a press conference that followed a meeting of the Social Partnership, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Prime Minister Mottley, while deeming the meeting successful as it gave the sense there was agreement on a process for the way forward, stressed she was hoping for a consensus among the members of the tripartite body on the “difficult and challenging issue of COVID-19 vaccination and testing”.

She stated: “We have agreed that the Attorney General will prepare or have prepared a legal opinion looking at both civil and criminal liability with respect to aspects of mandatory vaccinations and mandatory testing or failure thereto and the consequences of engaging in a way that may cause harm to others.

“We expect that that opinion will be made available to us on or before August 6, and that that would then trigger a process that would involve both sectoral and national consultations in the ensuing weeks.”

The consultations are expected to start within the Social Partnership and with sectoral discussions, to be led by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan; and Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams.

The national consultations, on the other hand, will be led by Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw; along with Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic.

It was noted that Minister Bradshaw will be acting as Prime Minister at that time, as Prime Minister Mottley will be on leave for two-and-a- half weeks in August.

The national consultations will take the form of four zonal sessions and will be hybrid in nature making use of face-to-face as well as virtual meetings. 

While elaborating on the need for consultations, Ms. Mottley said: “This is to allow us to give as many Barbadians, whether sectoral or nationally, the opportunity to be heard against the background of the legal opinion which is being received and this will relate, as I said, to both mandatory vaccination as well as mandatory testing, and the legal opinion and views and perspective of all will be taken into account.

“We would love to reach consensus as a Social Partnership and as a country, and we pray and hope that we can still do so, but I have already indicated to the country that this Government has always held the perspective: consult, communicate and where we can’t, we will not fail to govern. But we as Barbadians understand how we do things and typically, Barbadians respect and want that level of consultation with respect to these matters.”

Following the consultations, the members of the Social Partnership are expected to convene at the end of August and report to the nation on the matter.

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