By Orville Williams
If vaccine hesitancy, anti-vaccine attitudes and disregard for the Covid-19 protocols were not enough for the health authorities to deal with, the government says there is a new threat to the management of the pandemic, namely fake vaccination cards.
“Among the intelligence information that we’ve had, there are a number of persons who have reported that there are certain rogue elements that are preparing to provide would-be patrons who are unvaccinated, with fake vaccination identification cards,” Information Minister Melford Nicholas said as he made that disclosure during yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing.
This problem should not be too long-lasting, however, as Nicholas also confirmed that vaccinated persons will soon be equipped with new, irreplicable vaccination cards.
“We would have received confirmation [on Wednesday] from our suppliers in North America, that [for] the equipment and material that we require to complete the vaccination cards, the order has been fulfilled,” he continued.
“We’re expecting shipment in a matter of days, so early next week we would expect to roll out the vaccination cards which will certainly assist the process, simply because it wears better, it is not capable of being fraudulently replicated and it will have visual representation of [the holder] as well.
“So, it will certainly be a matter for bar owners to be able to ask, upon attendance, for persons to present that card at the point of entry.”
The move to restrict unvaccinated persons from patronising bars and nightclubs, as well as gyms, has not gone down well with many in the country. Some have called it blatant discrimination, while others have gone as far as likening the restrictions to the segregation issues in the United States during the mid-1800s to mid-1900s.
The government made it clear, though, that the measures were only meant to protect the majority of the population – especially those who remain unvaccinated – given the recent rise in infections.
Business operators were tasked with ensuring access is only granted to fully vaccinated persons and warned that those who were found to disobey this policy would be met with fines and/or be closed down indefinitely.
There were concerns, including from some health professionals, that these business operators may choose to subvert the policy – despite the potential sanctions – as they may be confident of getting away with such actions, on account of them ‘policing’ themselves.
However, there will be a slight adjustment in this regard going forward, according to Nicholas.
“There is going to be additional inspection, periodic and sporadic – much like we do on the roads with the police in terms of inspecting drivers licences and motor vehicle licences – in which we will expect to enforce the regulations,” he explained. The minister also welcomed the intervention of “whistleblowers” in situations where any business operators may be observed to be flouting the restrictions.