Labour Minister supports gazetted COVID-19 measures, says responsibility is to protect the nation

The latest gazetted measures for COVID-19, published earlier this month, require that members of the public be vaccinated to access all public buildings, a move which Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, MP stated is for the protection of the population.

The new requirement has sparked some protests, mainly from the political opposition and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), but Minister Hamilton maintained that the orders will work in the interest of all.

“The Ministry of Labour is guided by the gazetted orders issued under the Minister of Health because I know those orders came about via development conversations monthly at the level of the task force. And that has a wide cross-section of technical specialists, people in the field of health. I will be forever guided right through this pandemic by the orders coming out of the ministry of health via the hands of the Minister of Health,” Minister Hamilton noted.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, MP

He was speaking on Wednesday, on the sidelines of a graduation ceremony for Community Service Officers (CSOs).

Responding to the protests by some sections of society, Minister Hamilton questioned about the rights and protection of persons who choose to be vaccinated.

“At the level of the government, we have a responsibility to protect this nation, and that is what we will do. We have a responsibility to ensure all our people are healthy and safe and that is what we will do.

“People have talked about their rights; the question is what rights we have who have taken our vaccine? Why do you think you have the right to come into my space and seek to contaminate me? We have rights also, so this one-sided argument is a non-argument in my view as Minister of Labour and that is how I treat it from day to day.”

He said the government’s position remains that vaccination is voluntary. He said unvaccinated persons will not be denied ministerial services, however, they are expected to provide a PCR test or make an appointment before visiting any ministry. This pronouncement of entry is applicable to public and private entities. Pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions are the only exemption of the gazetted order.