Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley.
Photo by George Alleyne

ANTIGUA

The Antigua and Barbuda government has welcomed a court ruling that dismissed an application by a union representing public servants that sought to challenge the government’s policy on vaccination against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Steadroy Benjamin said the move by the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) “had no merit,” adding it was bound for failure given the COVID-19 situation in Antigua and Barbuda.
The ABPSA is among several unions that have sought to challenge the vaccine mandate and during the recent hearing, the Court dismissed the matter on the grounds that the association does not have the authority to put forward the motion given the current state of emergency (SoE) and further ABPS is not a recognized or registered body.
Last month, the union filed a petition for judicial review after indicating that the mandatory vaccination policy was unreasonable, irrational, and disproportionate
The government had warned that the salaries of those public sector workers who remain unvaccinated will be with held — unless the employees can provide a valid medical exemption — while they remain away from work.
BARBADOS
Prime Minister Mia Mottley is lobbying for a vaccine plant to be established on the island, saying she does “not accept that it is impossible for us to achieve that.”
Mottley, who was speaking to reporters following the opening of the 15th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Bridgetown recently, reiterated her call for global equity in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.
She said that if the COVID-19 pandemic is to be conquered, vaccines need to be readily available across the world.
The prime minister said she does not accept that it is impossible for Barbados to have a plant established here.
Mottley said a manufacturing or bottling plant would do well not only for the COVID-19 pandemic but for any pandemic or future needs for pharmaceuticals
She told reporters that the Delta variant of the virus is wreaking havoc on the economies and health systems of the Caribbean and it was important for there to be a quick and reliable access to vaccines.
CARIBBEAN
The Barbados government is defending its decision to being part of an initiative involving at least two Caribbean countries (St. Lucia and the Bahamas) seeking to acquire COVID-19 vaccines, insisting that “no taxpayers resources were expanded.”
Acting Prime Minister Sanita Bradshaw, in an address to the nation recently, confirmed that the “regional company” at the center of the initiative” now finds itself having to pursue legal action in the United States for the non-delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, which it would have paid for and subsequently tried to procure for Barbados from a legitimate manufacturer.”
She reminded that in February this year, Barbados and many other developing countries were severely impacted by the coronavirus and were seeking to acquire vaccines to help deal with the situation.
She said there are several rules governing the purchase of vaccines from the international manufacturers and this can only be done if the recipient government with whom the discussions are taking place approves of such purchases and that arrangements are also put in place “for the vaccines to be delivered directly to the relevant authorities in the country under the auspices of the Ministry of Health.”
Bradshaw said Barbados’ quota was 300,000 and that the supplier was in discussions with other countries regarding the remaining 700,000 doses.
She insisted that at the time the deal was being brokered Barbados and other countries were facing difficulties in acquiring the vaccines and that no taxpayers money were expended to acquire the vaccines.
GUYANA
EXXONMOBIL has announced a new discovery at the Cataback-1 well and increased its estimate of the discovered recoverable resource for the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana, to approximately ten billion oil-equivalent barrels.
This  brings the total significant discoveries within the Stabroek Block to 25.
The Cataback-1 well encountered 243 feet of net pay in high-quality hydrocarbon-bearing sandstone reservoirs.
The newest discovery has also increased the Stabroek Resource, estimate to approximately ten barrels of oil-equivalent and further enhanced the development potentials of Guyana’s offshore blocks.
President of ExxonMobil Guyana Alistair Routledge  said recent discoveries and ongoing projects continue to contribute to the advancement of the Guyana economy.
ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Limited is operator and holds 45 percent in the Stabroek Block.
JAMAICA
Sandals Resorts International has announced the construction of the Gordon “Butch” Stewart International School of  Hospitality and Tourism at the University of the West Indies (The UWI) in conjunction with Florida International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Sandals said it was being done in honor of Sandals’ late founder Stewart and his “legendary entrepreneurial spirit and life-long belief in the power of education.”
FIU, in partnership with the UWI, will develop the next-generation of international tourism and hospitality leadership, through fully accredited undergraduate and graduate programming, a Sandals statement said.
The new school will be located on the  Western Campus of The UWI, Mona, Jamaica, in the tourism capital of Montego Bay.
The school will offer students educational opportunities beyond the classroom.
This year, as the company marks its 40th anniversary, a year-long celebration will honor the legacy of Butch Stewart and celebrate the company’s success, the statement said.
ST. VINCENT
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph  Gonsalves has appealed to teachers to continue to deliver online classes even as their union voted to withdraw their services for two days last week.
Gonsalves said he was disappointed to learn that a number of teachers, not a large number, who attended an online meeting of the Teachers’ Union has taken a decision not to do online teaching for three days.
The government has classified teachers as frontline workers, meaning that if they want to continue in their post, they will have to take a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, unless they receive a medical exemption.
But in a statement, the St. Vincent Teachers Union said at a virtual meeting last week, the green light was given to the union to file an injunction against the government on the vaccination issue.
To date, there are 1,279 active cases of COVID-19 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and 33 deaths.
TRINIDAD 
The United Kingdom has removed Trinidad and Tobago from the UK’s COVID-19 travel list.
This was revealed by an official of the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, who said the news came in a tweet by UK High Commissioner to T&T, Hartiet Cross saying, TT is off the red list as Oct. 11.
The list of countries from which foreign countries were not allowed to enter the  UK owing to COVID-19 concerns returning from the red-list countries were required on return to the UK.
A total of 47 destinations, including South Africa, with seven countries and territories remaining.
This means no more managed hotel quarantine and travellers who must quarantine at home or in a place they are staying can opt to end quarantine early through the Test to Release Scheme.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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