Minister Allyson West

On track for next Monday?

The question of whether Government is on track for the projected January 17 start of quasi public sector safe zones will be addressed “in the next day or two” according to Public Administration Digital Transformation Minister Allyson West yesterday.

West replied on Thursday when Guardian Media asked if the administration is on track for January 17 since law for the plan is yet to be passed in both Houses of Parliament.

The date was projected in a December 31 memo to ministries.

A bill titled the Miscellaneous Provision (Testing and Identification) is on Parliament’s agenda today.

Details weren’t given. But it’s expected to be laid in the Lower House on Friday.

On Wednesday, UNC whip David Lee said the Opposition hadn’t received the bill and expected it today. “It has to be laid before we get it,” he said.

UNC MP Rodney Charles said the bill wasn’t made available to him.

He said, “Our hope is that interest groups and the Opposition will have adequate time to review it and it will not be another rush job.”

UNC’s Rudy Indarsingh said, “This Government bungled pandemic leave and its work-from-home policy and all indicators are that this (safe zone plan) will suffer a similar fate.”

A December 31 memorandum from the Public Administration Ministry had projected the “quasi” safe zones would start January 17 .

That involves public sectors being manned only by people who’ve presented proof of vaccination or appropriate exemption documentation. Those unvaccinated will be furloughed–remaining at home minus pay.

The ministry’s memo had mandated Government divisions to list the number of vaccinated, unvaccinated and other staff who require exemptions. It also gave dates– from last week– offering vaccinations at locations in North and South.

On Wednesday, West told Guardian Media the ministry received feedback from all ministries on workers who are vaccinated, unvaxxed or require exemptions– but was still collating information from the wider public sector.

West said most ministries indicated more than 75 per cent of their staffers are vaccinated. That was based on verbal responses. A few are in the 50 to 75 per cent range and there are two below 50 per cent.

The overall average is 65 per cent, she added.

West added, “The Health Ministry is pressing ahead with public service vaccination sites which are not yet as busy as we ‘d hoped but are continuing to provide service while some public servants continue to visit other sites. So we’re hoping the (vaccinated) number keeps improving as we inch closer to D Day.’’

Asked yesterday on whether all is on track for January 17 start, she said the matter would be addressed in the next day or two.”

With 51- 54 per cent of the TTPS vaccinated, the Police Social and Welfare Association yesterday confirmed some more officers had taken up the TTPS’ offer of doctors to advise on their health for them to decide on vaccinations.

Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan said only about 10 officers daily took up the offer of vaccinations and health checks offered by the prisons since Monday. Fire Services vaccination level had increased only slightly recently.

The Joint Trade Union Movement recently told unvaccinated workers to go to work and demand of their supervisors to tell them why, if they’re told they couldn’t work. JTUM hosts a media briefing today on the issue.