Civil servants who have not received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine must go on leave from Monday and they cannot come back to work until they receive at least the first dose of the vaccine.
While making a national announcement, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act, they are also requiring that all employers and employees in the private sector and statutory bodies receive at least one dose of the vaccine by 1st August 2021.
For civil servants, that must be done by 15th August 2021, after which they may return to work so long as they go on to be fully vaccinated by 1st November 2021.
Bainimarama says if the civil servants do not adhere to these guidelines they will be dismissed from work.
He further says under the Fijian Constitution, guidelines can be issued by Government to which all civil servants must adhere.
The Prime Minister says extensions to time frames will be granted for employers and employees located in areas where vaccines are not yet available.
Bainimarama adds for the vast majority of Fijians, being vaccinated can happen very soon and very easily as they have vaccination centres open throughout the country, even drive-through vaccine centres where you can be vaccinated in the comfort of your car.
Bainimarama says those with medically-certifiable allergies to the vaccine with proper certification only by the Permanent Secretary for Health will be exempt.
He adds the Attorney General and Minister for Civil Service will provide the full details of the civil service guidelines and the relevant regulations.
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has said in his national announcement that a period of 28 days of a hard lockdown, as some are calling for, cannot be strictly enforced everywhere in Fiji and their experts tell them it would not kill off the virus but it would kill jobs and it could kill our country's future.
While making it clear that there will be no lockdown, Bainimarama says they have not locked everyone in their homes for all hours of the day.
He says instead, the Government has given you the ability to shop for food, withdraw money, access medicine, go to work and sustain your livelihoods to provide for your families but he says that freedom comes with responsibility because every Fijian deserves to go about their business with an assurance of safety to interact, to transact, to shop, and to work under COVID safe protocols.
Bainimarama says that is why they are asking that all employers and employees in Fiji, including civil servants be vaccinated as a condition of their employment.
The Prime Minister says from next week, they are ramping up the vaccination campaign and giving new teeth to the enforcement of the health protection measures.
Bainimarama says the AstraZeneca vaccine has been shown to offer 92 percent protection against hospitalization from the Delta variant of COVID-19 present in the country.
The Prime Minister says with other, potentially deadlier variants spreading around the world, including the highly contagious Lambda variant next door in Australia, they cannot afford to waste time getting vaccinated and getting back the lives and livelihoods we know and love.
Bainimarama says he would not ask you to accept any medical treatment that he would not accept for himself.
He says he can tell you he has not been magnetized or microchipped by the vaccine, he has not received the mark of the beast, or any other creature.
The Prime Minister says the foolish few who sow doubt about the vaccine are speaking lies in defiance of faith, of facts, and of the duty of care that every Fijian owes to themselves and each other.
He says their lies can only lead to sad and preventable death from COVID-19.
Bainimarama says we must not fall prey to their false theories and prophecies.
He says God gave us brains so we can use them.
The Prime Minister says it is God who guided the hands of the scientists and doctors who developed these vaccines to protect us.
He says what is unsafe is the virus.
Bainimarama also says he understands that steam therapy and hot drinks are a comfort for some. He says you are free to try these treatments, though we must all understand that they are not a substitute for being vaccinated.
He says Fiji’s target population for vaccination is 586,651 adults.
Bainimarama says by 1st November 2021, Fiji expects to have at least 80 percent of that group fully vaccinated, which means two doses.
He says until that day arrives, we must demonstrate the basic responsibility to adhere to all of our COVID-safe measures.
New penalties for breach of COVID-19 related regulations will take effect from next week where spot fines will range from $20 for individuals and up to $4,000 for companies depending on the severity of the offence.
While making the announcement, Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says the Police, designated staff of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport and the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission will be given powers to enforce these new penalties.
Bainimarama says they are serving fines so that we do not crowd our cells with offenders and hope these fines serve as a deterrence.
He says they don't want to lock people up and also don't want people’s money however they want everyone to follow the rules.
The Prime Minister says they are going to every length imaginable to get the word out and have published the guidance everywhere they can - on billboards, radio, social media and on television.
He says they even have teams of people including the RFMF going around with hailers to communities telling adults to wear masks, to not share cigarettes or bowls of grog, and respect the rules.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says out of the 353,416 Fijians who applied for the second round of the Government's $50 cash assistance, 65,275 people applied with more than one sim card.
Bainimarama says another 65,224 were already recipients of unemployment benefits under the FNPF scheme while 21,000 were already recipients of welfare payments, TELS, Toppers and were under the age of 18.
He says these tens of thousands did not qualify because they already were receiving other forms of assistance.
Bainimarama says yesterday, government paid out another $10.2 million in $50 payments to 205,000 Fijians in the informal sector. He says when people take advantage of government assistance, they are not just stealing from government, they are are stealing from friends and neighbours.
Bainimarama says some people have been submitting phony phone numbers to squeeze out more assistance they are entitled to receive.
He says we should not tolerate double-dippers.
The Prime Minister says while many Fijian businesses have been able to safely re-open, there are still thousands of Fijians who cannot return to work because our borders are still closed.
Bainimarama says the Northern and Eastern divisions remain COVID contained and they are working hard to keep them that way.
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