GOVERNMENT is considering various options to improve on the country’s current COVID-19 status, which might eventually include introducing mandatory vaccination to protect the general populous against infections.
This was announced today by President Hage Geingob during his 34th Public Briefing at State House where the latest COVID-19 regulations were made public.
Geingob noted that while the rights of individuals are guaranteed in the constitution, people also have an obligation to protect others against the deadly virus.
“People are dying. It’s not a joke, we are burying them everyday. Protect your family and protect your nation. When you tell me you want to come to my residence, I will stop you right there. Are we going to fight about technicalities on human rights and do point scoring when people are dying? “Geingob queried.
Also speaking on the matter of possibly making vaccines mandatory, the Attorney General, Festus Mbandeka, stated that government currently has measures in place to encourage vaccine uptake, but that it is low at the moment.
Mbandeka further stated that the constitution allows people fundamental freedoms to enjoy, but that those freedoms are subject to reasonable restrictions and that such restrictions are necessary within a democratic society like Namibia.
He explained that it’s not only individual rights that are considered, but that public interest is also taken into consideration where the pandemic is concerned.
“If individuals are posing a risk to public health or others, government has the right to look into the option of mandatory vaccination,” Mbandeka said.
He further stated that the labour law also has provisions which impose an obligation on employers to ensure that a safe and healthy environment is provided, not only to employees but their customers.
“Vaccination is voluntary at this stage, however, we are considering various other measures to increase vaccine uptake. If it is found that companies which have introduced mandatory vaccination for its employees made such a decision on reasonable grounds, then their policies on mandatory vaccination might not be found unconstitutional,” Mbandeka said.
President Geingob also gave an update on the COVID-19 public health regulations, which for the most part saw restrictions being relaxed as infections continue to drop nationally.
Curfew hours will be relaxed, and instead of starting from 22:00, have been moved to 23:00 to 04:00.
Additionally, public gatherings have been increased to 150 people, including spectators at sporting events.
The sale of alcohol will be allowed from 09:00 to 22:00, from Mondays to Fridays, and 09:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays.
The new regulations will come into effect on 16 September midnight and will end on 15 October midnight.