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BHTA supports mandatory vaccination against COVID-19

BHTA supports mandatory vaccination against COVID-19
Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Geoffrey Roach. (Picture by Reco Moore)

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The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) says it will be lobbying Government to have tourism employees who are unvaccinated or those who will not disclose their status to be subjected to weekly PCR tests at their own expense.

Member hotels are also being urged to request proof of vaccination status from those making new applications for jobs.

In a statement by chairman Geoffrey Roach, the body said it supported mandatory vaccination against COVID-19, but those who were already inoculated would not be subjected to the weekly tests.

These are among the recommendations for testing protocols agreed to by members at a meeting on Friday.

“We reiterate that our primary concern remains the health and safety of our employees, guests and Barbadians. We are cognizant that vaccines are crucial for a safe, productive and healthy working environment, as well as the future survival of this vital sector,” the statement said.

“The BHTA fully supports and will continue to strongly encourage all employees in the industry to get vaccinated. It is our position that regular testing will not be required for those employees who are fully vaccinated and provide proof of an approved course of vaccines.

“Furthermore, the Association will be lobbying Government for unvaccinated tourism employees and those that are not fully vaccinated or who will not disclose their vaccination status, to be required to be tested weekly for COVID-19, or otherwise as stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. It is our expectation that these tests will be facilitated under the current arrangements through our public health system

“To assist with this process, members have given the assurance that employees will be allowed the necessary time off to be tested. However, the BHTA’s position is that any costs associated with testing should be the full responsibility of the employees.”

The Association said it also recognised vaccines were not readily available, and there are those who may refuse for “religious, medical and other reasons”, underscoring the need for frequent testing.

“It is equally important for all current employees, particularly those that are unvaccinated, to be continually sensitised and encouraged to maintain protocols, not only while on property and on-duty, but consistently in their daily activities when off-duty as well.

“To facilitate this continued education, the Association will pursue collaboration with Government, industry partners and other relevant organisations, to develop specific educational activities and workshops on the importance of being vaccinated and adhering to protocols. We also intend to join forces with our private-sector partners to develop a national vaccination campaign,” the statement later added.

Roach said fewer sectors were as hard hit as tourism by COVID-19 and “we are ever mindful that the only way for us to move forward is to have policies that mitigate against the spread of this virus to our employees and our communities.” (PR/SAT)