Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday that business owners should encourage their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine and suggested that if they do not they should get weekly PCR tests.
He said it would help to keep businesses open as the country continues to grapple with the pandemic.
“I want to send a message to the business sector,” he said on Grand Bahama during the signing of a contract for the government’s purchase of Grand Bahama International Airport.
“Kindly encourage all of your employees to become vaccinated, because if your employees are vaccinated, and one individual enters your premises who has evidence of COVID, you need not close your premises. You can continue.
“If one of your employees is not vaccinated and has COVID and the remainder of your employees are vaccinated, you need not close your premises. Your business can continue.
“However, if your employees are not vaccinated, and an individual enters your premises who has evidence of COVID, then your business is subsequently closed temporarily for a cleaning, thus jeopardizing your economic progress.”
Minnis suggested the alternative for not having vaccinated employees would be having employees tested each week.
“So, I want to again encourage you to advise all your employees to become vaccinated. And for those who are not, I encourage you to have them take a COVID test, PCR test, weekly so as not to jeopardize the remainder of your employees”
RT-PCR COVID tests in The Bahamas costs more than $100 each.
The government is in the early stages of its effort to vaccinate people against COVID-19.
To date, 53,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have arrived in the country.
Another 33,000 doses from the COVAX Facility are expected to arrive next month.
In total, roughly 120,000 doses are expected – enough to fully vaccinate roughly 60,000 people, or less than one-fifth of the country’s population.
The government has said it is seeking to purchase more doses, but there has been no indication of when that will happen.
Government officials have maintained that the vaccines are not mandatory. However, at least one business, a New Providence restaurant, has already announced that its employees are required to take the vaccine and may be terminated if they choose not to.
While it recently said vaccines are available to individuals over 18, the government said due to limited supply only Bahamians and permanent residents may make appointments.