Opposition challenges work permit vaccine bills

| 04/10/2021 | 198 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): The opposition is calling for government to pull proposed legislation to introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for work permit holders. PPM leader Roy McTaggart set out the position of the opposition in a letter sent Sunday, a day before the issue is due to be debated in Parliament and a day after a protest rally that drew several hundred people. Another demonstration is also scheduled to take place at the House of Parliament ahead of the sitting on Monday, as public concerns mount about any coercion regarding vaccination against the coronavirus.

In the letter addressed to Premier Wayne Panton, McTaggart said his members have serious concerns with the bills, which he said have implications that “go far beyond the scope of only work permit holders”.

He complained about the “scant public consultation”, the potential impingement on the rights and freedoms of spouses, civil partners, children and dependents of Caymanians, and described the bills as discriminatory and divisive.

In a change of position, given McTaggart’s wholehearted support for widespread use of the vaccine as a way to protect the community, he said the introduction of mandatory vaccinations will “in the end, provide no absolute meaningful protection from the virus since the vaccinated can also contract it and pass it on”.

McTaggart said the proposed amendments to the customs and border control and immigration laws unfairly “impact a broad cross-section of persons who we have invited here to work, invest, do business and live”, and if they become law will have a negative impact on Cayman’s economy and reputation.

Siding with a local law firm that has warned that the proposed vaccination mandates threaten rights protected under the Constitution, McTaggart said that while the current law requires non-nationals to prove they are not suffering from a communicable disease, being vaccinated against COVID is not an indication that a person does not suffer from this communicable disease.

“Only a suitable test for the presence of the virus before arriving and again after an appropriate quarantine period provides sufficient satisfaction that the person is not infected with the virus and able to transmit it,” McTaggart wrote, adding that the mandatory requirement to non-nationals only was unprecedented and breached the fundamental rights in Cayman’s Constitution and the European Convention.

“They have the potential to harm our Islands economically and reputationally and are divisive. As such, our view is that if the legislation is passed in its current form, it is likely to be declared incompatible with our constitution when, inevitably, it is challenged in the courts. What’s more, mandating vaccinations will have no appreciable impact on the trajectory of the current community spread of the virus,” he said, asking Panton to withdraw the bills.

The letter was sent to the premier after the peaceful rally outside Government House, the governor’s residence, drew significant support. Despite the current social gathering limits and social distancing requirements, organisers managed to stay within the law and make their point.

Several protesters were not just wearing protective masks but full face coverings, as well as hats, hoodies and dark glasses to cover up their identities, as some attendees may have been civil servants or workers worried that they could lose their job for joining the demonstration.

While many of the organisers are opposed to vaccination and continue to claim, without evidence, that it is dangerous and that government is hiding patients here who have had adverse reactions or “vaccine injuries”, there were also many people at the rally who claimed to be vaccinated but said they were concerned about the discrimination against work permit holders and the implications of mandating a vaccine, despite the mandatory vaccine programmes that already exist for children to go to school.

Some were there to promote the concept of vaccine choice, including Dr Steve Tomlinson, who is opposed to the approved and well researched Pfizer vaccine but appears to support the Sinopharm vaccine, developed by the China National Pharmaceutical Group, which has not yet received UK medical approval and has a much lower efficacy rate than the Pfizer shots currently being supplied by the British to all of its territories.

There were also others demanding a choice in medical treatment for those who are unvaccinated and become ill, including Ivermectin and hydroxichloroquine, two drugs which have become politicized and bogged down in a maelstrom of misinformation. In India’s recently revised ‘Clinical Guidelines’ for COVID-19 both these drugs have been dropped from recommended use.

The HSA has said that it has a full treatment regime available for anyone unfortunate enough to be hospitalised due to the virus and has successfully treated around two dozen people for COVID-19 since March 2020.

Parliament is due to meet at 10am and will be broadcast live on government social media pages and on CIGTV.

See the opposition leaders letter in the CNS Library.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (198)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    When we seamen went to work on ships,sailing around the world, we had to get many different Vaccines, if we refused then we was not hired,or sent home, no one complained about it. No Caymanian at home marched about it either. We had a choice get the Vaccine or its no job/go home, its the same with the permit holders, get the vaccine or its no job/ go home.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The government are NOT forcing expats on work permit to get the Vaccine , they giving them a choice, get the Vaccine or they will have to leave, that’s Not forcing the Vaccine on them. Caymanians don’t have that choice, they are not citizens of another country, they can’t leave.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And when the bill passes and we still do not hit the magic number of vaccinations what then?

    Where is the data? How many work permit holders and permanent residents are not vaccinated?

    How do you say this is all about saving and protecting our children but not mandate ALL teachers, including at Government schools to be vaccinated?

    How do you say this is all about protecting our vulnerable yet not mandate ALL HSA and Health Care workers be vaccinated?

    • Taylor says:

      My thoughts l am yet to hear statistical breakdown of age group, nationality. Why is it a secret? Stop blaming and shaming and show facts. Then we can talk. I keep thinking if everyone around gets vaccinated except those who are not mandated. Who going suffer? People better get wise and stop turn this into a battle against foreigners. Start really thinking and secure yourself and family. I wish more real thinking would take place around here across every facet of life. It’s the thinkers that are going to keep on living and striving not the blamers and complainers. Better start looking at the bigger picture and think of long term consequences. Too many for too long caught up in blaming one set of nationality and color for problems here. Better wake up and start thinking and asking relevant questions? Else one day going to wake up as the minority, with a generation of lost identity. My grandma would say stop listening to the noise of the market, look for your correct change. Wake up people and think!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can someone from CIG please explain why they are not mandating Caymanians to have the vaccine? If they all love their island, as they profess to do, then surely they would want to protect all those who live and work here? Quite blatant discrimination against WP holders who contribute a massive amount to the islands. So much for the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “he said the introduction of mandatory vaccinations will “in the end, provide no absolute meaningful protection from the virus since the vaccinated can also contract it and pass it on”.”

    how ignorant are the opposition? the vaccine is not meant to stop infection, it is meant to greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization, long term post-Covid health issues and death from the virus.

    Seems the opposition leader should perhaps be better informed or more likely it is a lack of intelligence that is the issue.

    Just as I was thinking PACT could not be worse, the opposition show just how better than the opposition are.

  6. Daniel Johns says:

    If I understand this, even with the new cases reported today… that if 300 people showed up for this stupidity, they are guests in the Islands, and should comply with whatever the gov’t deems fit. 300 people, and population of say 60.000, that, if my math is correct, is 1/2 of a percent of the population.. They are free to get vaccinated, or return to where ever they came from.. pretty simple actually…

  7. Anonymous says:

    McTaggert is only protesting because Wayne thought of it and will get credit for protecting the public and not him. What a sell out!

    • Anonymous says:

      Playing politics with people lives is what they doing! Start with work permit holders and also make it MANDATORY that all front line workers be vaccinated.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The opposition should be ashamed of themselves, we hope next election they don’t even get one vote. Expats have a choice, if they don’t want to get the vaccine, fine, just go some else to work, no one is forcing them to get the vaccine. They have a choice stay here and get the Vaccine Or just leave here. Caymanians don’t have that choice they can’t leave.

  9. Anonymous says:

    No masks. Little social distancing. Looks like over the 250 limit for a gathering. That would make them law breaking protesters. They should all be tested in a few days and we can find out if this is a super spreader event.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, Mostly foreigners that don’t want to follow their own country’s laws so they come to lazed Cayman islands to live their tropical dream.. Sucking up all the luxuries, segregating from what they consider, petty and imbecile locals and doing as they please! You have a CHOICE go back HOME or follow the laws of this land! I’m sure their country gives similar options to all! PACT if you don’t go through with this you are a pushover Government!

  10. Anonymous says:

    People will still have a choice . No one is forcing them to get vaccinated right now- only regrading permit renewals and new applications.
    If u don’t want to get vaccinated then fine. But if u want to work here ( and no foreigner has the right to that) then it’s required. No problem. Their choice.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I bet half of those protestors wouldn’t support a gay marriage bill or an abortion bill, yet they hold up “human rights”, “freedom of choice” and “my body my choice” placards. As a vaccinated person, I do agree that vaccines shouldn’t be mandatory. If you don’t want it, fine, I couldn’t care less about your health. But don’t change your rhetoric when it’s time to pass a bill like the two I’ve mentioned.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. I bet half these protestors are also anti abortion. Double standards

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course not

      People like Kattina Anglin were decrying the ECHR less than 2 years ago and suggesting Cayman should seek independence in order to dodge its provisions

      They have no principled commitment to individual freedoms or democratic principles

      They believe Christians are superior, and that rights are not fundamental but entirely subjective to the situation and the person involved

      There are two Caymanian bellweathers that can be used to determine whether or not an issue is legitimate or worthy of your time here

      Mario Ranking and Kattina Anglin

      If one of them is supporting something I would proceed with caution

      If BOTH of them are supporting something I would steer well clear

  12. Anonymous says:

    It would be amusing to look at the lipid panels of these sacred vessel “not in my body” protesters, high-fiving out, and bee lining to KFC for a family bucket of extra battered fried chicken. Oh, the freedom-loving irony of it all.

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