Hotel workers ‘have been helped immensely’ by government’s free COVID test pilot

By PAVEL BAILEY

BAHAMAS Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union President Darrin Woods said hotel workers have been helped immensely by the government’s free COVID-19 trial pilot.

In an interview on Friday, the union president said the initiative was something he supported as it represented a more “cost-effective” option for union members, especially those who are unvaccinated and need to test the vaccine regularly. COVID-19.

He said: “It was a huge help to them because they were able to participate. Because they, the unvaccinated people, are required to test regularly every five days and of course it cost them Dear.

“And so now, with the free testing, it’s much more economical for them to go through the government system and participate in it.”

He then referred to long-standing issues with hotels requiring unvaccinated workers to be tested weekly.

While he understands that current health policy requires people to get tested for travel, Mr Woods said he was strongly opposed to the private sector extending this requirement to its domestic workers.

“We don’t think employers should have employees tested for employment because again the government is the main employer on the island and not all employers ask or require people to be tested. .”

Mr Woods said the measures listed in the Health and Safety Act should not be passed on to employees, adding that he had tried to resolve the issue through legal means.

Although he is still against hotel workers having to get tested to go to work, Mr Woods said he was glad the government had delivered on its campaign promise to make free tests available.

“On the one hand, we don’t think they should have been tested to go to work, but in the meantime, because they are required to test and until the case is decided, so, well of course free testing of course was part of the New Day government’s platform during its election campaign that they would make free testing available.

“And they went ahead and implemented the pilot program and, of course, we hope to see that continue to develop as it would have.”

Although the free trial program is still limited in scope, he hopes it will continue to expand so that more people can benefit from it.

“They’ve gone from 400 to 1,000 a day, so we’re looking in the near future to see those numbers continue to increase where they’re widely available to anyone who really needs to be tested.”

As the number of COVID cases around the world continues to rise, he mentioned growing concerns from hotel union members to ensure that guests entering the country who test positive for COVID-19 are properly contained and monitored to ensure the safety of tourism workers.

“There’s a concern in terms of, how should I put it, with ensuring people, I’m talking now guests, who have contracted COVID to make sure they’re properly contained and quarantined, and that they are being watched. Much the same if you or I were to catch it, there is a quarantine period where we have to stay home, and the various reports are made just to make sure. But the concern we receive from them is better control of people who are known to have tested positive, especially in industry. How do you kind of confine them to a particular area or room or whatever?

When asked if the government is doing enough to protect hotel workers from guests who test positive for COVID, he replied:

“Yes, I think the government needs to think about it, but I guess you could say they are probably trying to strike a balance. Because they don’t want to scare off – my words – guests or tourists from coming to the country, but in the end whatever is necessary.

Woods noted that while the latest strain of COVID is very easily transmitted, he thinks people need to take the necessary precautions to prevent the situation from getting too out of control, including continuing to follow relevant safety protocols.

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