GUYANA | Public sector groups takes Govt to court over new COVID-19 rules

GUYANA |  Public sector groups takes Govt to court over new COVID-19 rules

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, September 6, 2021 - A new unpopular government order requiring persons who want to enter a public building to be vaccinated or enter by appointment with a negative PCR result, is to be tested in court, and a hearing has been set for this Wednesday. 

The hearing comes against the background of numerous public protests by many Guyanese against forced vaccination. Planned and sporadic protests have been taking place by a range of groups affected by the measures including teachers, health workers and public transport operators.

The newly updated COVID-19 Emergency Measures which took effect September 4, 202, require that to enter a public building, meaning a building to which the public has lawful access, persons in Guyana will now need to be vaccinated or enter by appointment with a negative PCR test.

The vaccination requirement for “public building” also applies to privately-owned buildings including all institutions of learning. This move by the Government has increased the number of buildings to which un-vaccinated and non-holders of negative PCR tests have no access.

In the July 29, 2021 Measures, restrictions were placed only on persons visiting a Ministry or Government Agency.

The city of Georgetown, Guyana bracing itself for demonstrations from a number of public sector organizations.The city of Georgetown, Guyana bracing itself for demonstrations from a number of public sector organizations.However, the new instructions for public buildings remain similar: where a member of the public wishes to enter a public building that person must present a vaccination card or that person may only access the building by appointment with a negative PCR test. For unvaccinated employees of public buildings, they must present a negative PCR test within 7 days of the day they wish to enter the building.

However, attorneys for the Guyana Trades Union Congress, the Guyana Public Service Union and the Guyana Teachers Union have joined forces filing  legal action against the government

And asking the  Court to declare that the Health Emergency measures instituted by the President of Guyana and published in the official gazette, were made in excess of the President’s jurisdiction under Section 21 of the Public Health Ordinance.

One week after Attorneys Darren Wade and Dane Elliott-Hamilton acting for the plaintiffs filed the writ against the government,  the application has been set for a hearing on Wednesday before Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln.

While the  Presidential declaration was first made under former President David Granger and continued under the current President, Irfaan Ali, the applicants are maintaining that the additional measures instituted by the Ali administration are what they have cited as the most extreme measures that have been put in place to get citizens vaccinated.

The applicants contend that although there is a Central Board of Health meeting, the President and the Minister of Health have not relied on that Board for advice and recommendations as is required by the Constitution.

The Attorneys contend that the declaration made by the President amounts to an unconstitutional delegation of the President’s powers and infringes on the Constitution. Additionally, Attorney Wade contends that there was an improper delegation of powers

He wants the Court to declare that the Emergency Measures later issued to be invalid.

The Attorneys want the court to declare the measures unconstitutional. Additionally, the Court is being called upon to throw out the vaccination requirements that have been instituted by the state.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall has dismissed the complainant’s arguments as ignorant,  and intends to vigorously represent the government’s case when it comes up for mention on Wednesday.  

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