The executive director of the Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce, Martin Cave, says the human rights of nationals should be respected as the island moves towards vaccinating people in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID019) pandemic here.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister of Antigua, Gaston Browne told radio listeners of the possibility of implementing a mandatory vaccination program as he criticized persons who were encouraging others not to participate in the national vaccination program.
“This is not a threat,” Browne said, adding that the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the socio-economic development of the island since the first case was diagnosed here last March.
The government has also said it had reached a collaboration with a private company to provide EC$50 to persons who receive their first jab.
Cove said that while business is supportive of the efforts by the government to get people vaccinated the goal of attaining herd immunity must be reached without infringing on the rights of the population.
“There this dichotomy, this conflict, because obviously the Chamber of Commerce, like any responsible business collective, would wish to have the economy bounce back as quickly and as robustly as possible.
“And by robust we want to have just not a quick comeback for business or business opportunities, but we want to do so in a resilient way. So, obviously, the quicker the population can be [free] of the risks from COVID–19, the better for us.
“But the Chamber, households and the country are made up of individuals, and there is where the conundrum lies. Because, while we want that, we’re also mindful and respectful of the right of the individual,” Cove told radio listeners.
He said that the business community “would support whatever is good for the entire country that does not infringe on the individual’s rights”.