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Super Value owner says employers should not force employees to get vaccinated

Super Value owner Rupert Roberts said yesterday that he is not forcing his employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine because it would be wrong to do so.

“I’m encouraging them to take it but it’s not mandatory,” he told The Nassau Guardian.

When asked why he is not forcing staff to take it, Roberts replied, “Well, I don’t think you can, legally. I think when it’s explained properly to them, I think they are going to take it. But, there’s been so much misinformation that makes them hesitant.

“We think to get back to normal, get the economy going again, everyone should take it. That’s our opinion and we don’t think that anybody could be forced to take it.”

In recent weeks, some private businesses in The Bahamas have mandated that employees take the vaccine.

Among those businesses is Sushi Rokkan restaurant at Old Fort Bay Town Centre. Last month, its owners mandated that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30, 2021, and warned that failure of staff to adhere to the policy may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal.

Yesterday, Roberts said it is “definitely” wrong to give employees such ultimatums. 

“I don’t think that they should be forced,” he said.

“If something goes wrong with their health in the future, they’re going to blame you and try to hold you responsible and you can’t blame them. I took the vaccine at the first available appointment because number one, age and number two, to set an example.”

Roberts said individuals need to feel confident that nothing will happen to them once they take the vaccine.

He said he sees attitudes toward the vaccine changing among his employees.

“Some, when I ask if they’re taking the vaccine, say, ‘Well, I’m thinking about it,’” Roberts said.

“I suppose they realize that if everybody takes it, we won’t have enough. So, they’re just sitting and waiting to see what happens … I think the country will come around and eventually take it.”

Last month, Attorney General Carl Bethel said his office will have to examine the legal authority of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in The Bahamas.

“I haven’t looked at the law on the matter,” he said

“I just see the issue as an emerging [one] 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.”

The Pan American Health Organization has advised against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

More than 36,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in The Bahamas.

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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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