Sanctions are coming says TCI Gov’t; 12,000 Work Permit holders must be vaccinated

#TurksandCaicos, April 23, 2021 – In a string of announcements which are already attracting backlash, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government has admitted it is working on sanctions to ensure more people become vaccinated, even though the Covid-19 vaccine remains voluntary.

The measures were proposed by the Ministry of Health informed a Cabinet report from this week.

“Members also agreed on sanctions for non-conformity by public servants and sanctions for the private sector will be further considered.”

Details of the sanctions which Cabinet has ratified are not yet revealed but the new regimes in response to the Covid-19 crisis are certain to be unpopular with the 55 per cent of people who have opted not to be vaccinated.

Some are 45 per cent of adults in Turks and Caicos are vaccinated informed Premier Washington Misick on Tuesday during ‘Financially Speaking’ talk show on the national radio station, RTC.  The National Vaccination dashboard said, 15,039 people (up to April 11) had received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine.

Government workers who were called back to full time office duties on April 12 have shunned the mandatory testing as an un-vaccinated employee in the public sector.   Some have resisted returning to the office.  The new, reactionary policies being approved at the highest level are now leaving little choice to exist without the coronavirus vaccine.

This measure was confirmed:  “Approved amendments to the Public and Environmental Health Ordinance mandating scheduled routine testing of unvaccinated residents working in areas that significantly interface with members of the general public.”

It is estimated that there are 12,000 work permit holders populating the islands in the expatriate workforce.  Government is pushing its limits to ensure anyone authorized to work in the Turks and Caicos Islands are not a threat to themselves. 

The Wednesday April 21 Cabinet report said:  “Approved the development of an official Turks and Caicos COVID-19 Exit Strategy through a structured vaccination program, which includes amendments to the Immigration Ordinance making vaccination mandatory for all work permit holders by July 2021 and initiatives to increase vaccinations more broadly through a phased reduction to restrictions to open up the economy tied to vaccination rates.”

Government is demonstrating its firmness about 70 per cent of the population vaccinated in order to achieve, ‘herd immunity’. 

In the pre-amble to the list of coming sanctions to enforce mandatory testing, vaccination and power to quarantine, the report informed that members were “given an update by the Ministry of Health on the measures being taken to address and mitigate against the threat of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) to the country”

The government is doubling down on the Power to Quarantine and this appears to be an action which will be drawn on as-needed; it applies to anyone vaccinated or not.

“Approved amendments to Amendments to the Public and Environmental Health (COVID-19 Pandemic) Regulations – Power to Quarantine, allowing fully vaccinated individuals that require precautionary quarantining to be quarantined for seven (7) days.  Non-fully vaccinated individuals will continue to be quarantined for fourteen (14) days.”

Government has greater enforcement capabilities within the public sector, but it is not stopping the Ministry of Health under the leadership of Deputy Premier, E Jay Saunders to create rules to filter into the private sector.

“This is in addition to recently agreed policy relevant to public servants working on the front line and includes workers in the health, education and hospitality sector of the private sector. Members also agreed on sanctions for non-conformity by public servants and sanctions for the private sector will be further considered,” is an excerpt from the Cabinet Meeting report.

The Covid-19 has been proven to be 100 per cent effective against serious hospitalisations, and reduces likelihood of becoming infected with the virus but one can still catch and spread the coronavirus even with the vaccine.  Vaccinated individuals are also still required to wear face coverings, sanitise and maintain physical distancing.

Residents say these facts prove the vaccine is for self-protection and should therefore be left to the individual to choose whether or not they want to take the jabs. 

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