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AG: We will have to examine legality of mandatory vaccinations 

The Office of the Attorney General will have to examine the legal authority of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in The Bahamas, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday.

“I haven’t looked at the law on the matter,” Bethel said when called for comment.

“I just see the issue as an emerging and I would have to take advice on that first and then, once I see what they say, I would have to satisfy myself if they’re correct in terms of my legal officers. I don’t ever jump to a legal opinion particularly on new matters, particularly on new law.”

Bethel noted that the European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that policies of mandatory vaccinations are “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in light of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

He said the matter is not arising from government policy.

“Let me make this very clear, these are private sector entities making that determination, and so that is a matter that no doubt will be ventilated at some point and by ventilated I mean have to be considered by our judiciary,” Bethel said. 

The government has repeatedly said that it is not mandatory that Bahamians get COVID-19 vaccinations.

At least one employer is telling his workers it is mandatory for them.

The owners of Sushi Rokkan restaurant at Old Fort Bay Town Centre are mandating that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30, 2021.

They are warning that failure of staff to adhere to the policy may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal.

The restaurant is jointly owned by Michael Scott, QC, and his wife.

On Wednesday, Scott told The Nassau Guardian that “nobody is going to intimidate me”.

“Nobody is going to threaten me and have me pay attention to any threats and they can threaten to sue me,” he said.

“But, I have a larger duty — so does my wife — to protect the general body of staff that works for these restaurants as well as protect the dining public.”

More than 15,000 people have received the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine since vaccinations started in The Bahamas last month.

Officials recently announced that individuals who work in restaurants are now among those who may make appointments to be vaccinated.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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