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Employers urged to put measures in place to protect workers from COVID-19

Employers urged to put measures in place to protect workers from COVID-19
Members of the public being attended to at the Immigration Department in Kingstown

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The public and private sector are being urged to put further measures in place to protect their workers from the potential spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The call has come from Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who in a call to the ‘Issue at Hand’ programme on We FM today, March 29, disclosed what some government offices have been doing so far to ensure the safety of their workers.

And he made the call for more departments and private sector entities to follow suit.

“I’m asking all the enterprises, heads of departments, permanent secretaries and CEOs of state enterprises…make arrangements as best as you can to deliver your service…at the optimal level but so — in light of the circumstances — if you can do further shift work, rearrangement, whatever it is,” he said.

The prime minister said while he was not issuing a directive, he was setting a policy framework that should be done by all enterprises at the local level.

He said that he had indicated to the public service that they should take steps to decentralise their workplaces and he called on heads of departments and permanent secretaries to do so.

Gonsalves also noted what several government offices have done so far.

“At my office, the Office of the Prime Minister, ministry of national security, they have decided that there are some central personnel who will come everyday, but there are others, they would come three or four days.

Less pressure on the minibus system,” he said.

Gonsalves also said the Chief Immigration Officer wrote to him, seeking approval to cut down on the number of immigration officers at the airport.

“Instead of having 10 persons at the airport on a shift, to have five and the rationale was very easy. You have limited numbers of people coming,” he explained.

“Five can do the job, but if one or two persons have COVID or suspected of having COVID, not only those persons have to be quarantined but the immigration officers will have to be quarantined too. So why quarantine all 10?”

In the case of Cabinet, the Prime Minister said arrangements are being made for those meetings to take place electronically, if necessary.

“…We have to think of worst case scenarios…We are setting the processes in place. These are things we are not talking about…we are thinking about eventual contingencies. Whether that is likely, as I see it from now, I will say no, not likely,” Gonsalves said.

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