High Court denies injunction against COVID measures
The High Court on Friday refused an application seeking to stop the government from implementing a slew of COVID-19 measures, which among other things, prevent unvaccinated persons from accessing public buildings and seeking government services unless they produce a negative PCR test.
The challenge, which was mounted by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), was dismissed by Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln.
It allows for the government to continue to impose the restrictions unhindered. The Judge ruled that although such injunctions can be granted, the applicants failed to convince the Court that it was necessary.
The State was represented by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC. The application was filed by attorneys Darren Wade and Dane Elliott- Hamilton.
Nandlall argued that according to the State Liability and Proceedings Act, an injunction cannot be granted against the state. However, Justice Corbin ruled that the act does not apply to this case.
“The world has been severely impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments throughout the world have employed various measures to contain and reduce the spread of the virus. These measures include mandatory lockdown quarantine, curfew and mask-wearing.
“The introduction of vaccines is the most recent effort to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The court is not deaf to the debate raging around the world with respect to the ethicality and effectiveness of the vaccine…the legality of mandatory vaccine requirements is a reasonable infringement of constitutional rights. These matters are still to be tested in court,” the Judge said in her oral ruling.
Justice Corbin-Lincoln explained that reports suggest that vaccine hesitancy is a “live” issue in Guyana.
She, however, reasoned that as part of its efforts to combat the deadly virus, the government has implemented various measures such as proof of vaccination or negative PCR testing to enter public buildings.
“The State has a duty to take measures to avert the spread of the disease,” the judge said in her ruling.
However, the issue of whether the President rightfully exercised his power, when he purportedly issued the order is yet to be determined. The substantive case is yet to be heard before a judge at the High Court.
The substantive case involves the Fixed Date Application which was filed challenging the government’s COVID-19 Emergency Measures that have been published in the Official Gazette and detail, among other things, the vaccination requirements.