Gov’t will soon have to consider need for ‘vaccine passport’ – President Ali

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President Irfaan Ali on Wednesday said the government is prepared to examine all options to help Guyana recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, including a “vaccine passport” in the face of hesitancy by some to get vaccinated and the recklessness of some persons in flouting guidelines put in place to prevent the spread of the disease, which has so far killed 58 persons here this month alone.

“To get back to normalcy, the introduction of a mass vaccination passport is being contemplated by many countries.

“In fact, we have already seen countries lower entry requirements for vaccinated persons,” the President said at a press conference at his State House, Georgetown residence.

“We here in Guyana will soon have to consider this option,” he declared.

What is being discussed around the world is that the passport could be digital or in paper format and would be used to certify that a person has been fully vaccinated. This would open the way for easy travel in and out of countries; the passport could also be used to access certain businesses, offices or events hassle-free. Those who weren’t vaccinated would have to go through a screening process and testing.

Guyana is rolling out an aggressive vaccination programme, but citizens are not absolutely required to take the vaccines.

President Irfaan Ali during his press conference at State House (Photo: News Room/April 28, 2021)

President Ali said that given the fact that vaccination is not mandatory, the government has to examine all means, including the vaccine passport, so the country can “move forward.”

“While the government is taking every step to have everyone vaccinated, it is the responsibility of every citizen, though not mandatory, to understand the importance of vaccination.

“These vaccines come with a shelf life, cost for storage and transportation, which are enormous and will not forever be available,” Dr Ali stated.

The President was stinging in his rebuke of those who continue to go about their activities in a reckless manner and are flouting the COVID-19 guidelines.

He said that the government will put more soldiers and policemen on the ground to ensure compliance. When it comes to bars and entertainment spots, he said the National COVID-19 Task Force has been asked to consider charging the owners. The President suggested that jailing everyone who flouts the guidelines may not be the most practical approach.

“Regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not, we must all follow the COVID-19 guidelines.

“We had hoped that common sense would have prevailed in following the established guidelines but unfortunately it hasn’t.

“The enforcement, therefore, of these guidelines will be further strengthened and enhanced,” the President stated.

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