Unvaccinated people have rights too, GSD says
The GSD said people who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 should not be deprived of access to loved ones receiving medical care.
The Opposition was raising concerns after receiving reports that people who are unvaccinated were being told they cannot see their parents or relatives at ERS or in the hospital unless they agree to be jabbed.
It said refusing them access “would be inhumane.”
The GSD said it knew of cases where persons who had been able to see a parent undergoing medical treatment in Spain were being told this was no longer possible once the patient was brought back to St Bernard’s Hospital.
It said there were also cases affecting relatives of residents at ERS.
In all the cases reported to the GSD, the patients or residents had been vaccinated.
The party said that this meant the risk of catching the virus was low given that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is supposed to provide 95% protection.
“GSD MPs have had the vaccine, we encourage people to do so and we support the vaccine programme,” said Keith Azopardi, the Leader of the Opposition.
“But if someone cannot for medical reasons have the vaccine or chooses not to do so they cannot lose their rights.”
“Still less should they be put in the agonising position that they are told they cannot have human interaction with a loved one because of that position.”
“A balance must be struck so that they are able to enjoy seeing their loved ones while the vulnerable are protected.”
“Extra precautions can be justified in these cases but they should not be banned from seeing their family.”
“The Government has said that vaccines are not mandatory. To give effect to that ways need to be found to ensure that people can see their loved ones by taking necessary precautions even without being vaccinated.”
“After all this was happening last year before the vaccination programme began.”
“So why not now when the risks of catching Covid have been dramatically lowered because of the vaccine programme?”
Mr Azopardi said precautions can still be taken by mandating Covid tests before visits or the wearing of PPE or isolation of patients being visited by unvaccinated individuals.
He urged the Government to reflect on this situation and review the current restrictions with the aid of public health advice.
“Members of staff are having daily interaction with unvaccinated individuals when they leave ERS or GHA,” he said.
“So the risks are still there.”
“There are even unvaccinated members of staff.”
“That brings into focus that while restrictions are understandable, they need to be proportionate and designed in a way that recognises that the vast majority of people are vaccinated.”
“They also need to be designed against the backdrop of the current state of active cases which is being maintained at the lowest levels that Covid has been in this community since the summer.”
GSD ON RESTRICTIONS
The GSD also called on the Gibraltar Government to lift the restriction on social gatherings.
“The current state of Covid cases is at its lowest consistent level since the summer,” the party said in a statement.
“As such this restriction on civil liberties should be removed.”
“Currently the social gathering restriction is set at 16.”
“Should the situation change the renewed imposition of restrictions may be justified but at present this is no longer the case and the GSD call on this to now be removed.”
Last night, the Gibraltar Government said it expects to be able to announce a further staged relaxation of remaining Covid-19 restrictions imminently.
Rules on numbers of persons who can gather and other remaining restrictions are being carefully considered following the GHA’s Public Health advice, No.6 Convent Place said.
The GSD raised the issue as a group calling itself Freedom Gibraltar again highlighted concerns that people who had not been vaccinated were being discriminated against.
The group had staged a protest during the recent Gibraltar v. Netherlands football match – only people who were vaccinated and had negative Covid tests were allowed in as spectators - and had called on the Gibraltar Government to state there would be no restrictions applied to people who had not been vaccinated.
On Wednesday, the group raised data protection concerns after claiming it had received reports that some customers of bars and restaurants had demanded to know the vaccination status of staff.
It also claimed some government employees had been subjected to “coercive pressure” to be vaccinated, including “thinly-veiled threats” to their job prospects.
“Freedom Gibraltar asks the Government to make a public declaration to clarify that no more discrimination of any kind will be acceptable by any public or private business or organisation in Gibraltar, with special emphasis on Government Departments and sectors, in order to prevent the precedent of a divisive, two-tier society that is beginning to emerge,” the group said.
Last night a spokesman for the government dismissed the group’s claims as “unfounded and untrue.”