Hotel workers 'helped tremendously' by govt's free COVID test pilot


Darrin Woods


BAHAMAS Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union President Darrin Woods says hotel workers have been helped tremendously by government’s free COVID-19 test pilot.

In an interview Friday, the union president said the initiative was something he supported because it represented a more "economical" option for union members, especially those who are unvaccinated and have to test for COVID-19 regularly.

He said: "It’s been a tremendous help to them because they’ve been able to participate in it. because they, the unvaccinated persons, are required to test regularly every five days and, of course, it was a cost to them.

"And so, therefore, now with the free testing it is much more economical for them to go through the government system and participate in that."

He went on to voice longstanding issues with hotels requiring unvaccinated workers to test weekly.

While he understands that the current health policy requires people to get tested to travel, Mr Woods said he is firmly against the private sector extending this requirement to its domestic employees.

“We don’t believe that employers should make employees test for employment because again the government is the major employer on the island and not every employer is asking or requiring persons to be tested.”

Mr Woods believed that measures listed in the Health & Safety Act should not be passed on to the employees, adding he has been trying to resolve the matter through legal means.

While he is still against hotel workers having to get tested to go to work, Mr Woods said he is glad that the government followed through on a campaign promise to make free testing available.

“On the one hand, we don’t believe that they should’ve been tested to go to work, but in the interim because they are required to test and until the matter has been adjudicated then, of course, the free testing of course has been part of the New Day government’s platform on their campaign trail that they would make free testing available.

“And they have gone ahead and implemented the pilot programme and, of course, we hope to see that continue to mushroom as it would have done.”

While the free testing programme is still limited in its scope, he hopes that it will continue to grow so more people can benefit from it.

“They’ve moved from 400 to 1000 a day, so we are looking in the near future to see those numbers continue to grow where it is widely available for anyone who actually needs to be tested.”

As the global COVID case numbers continues to rise he mentioned the growing concerns of hotel union members of ensuring that guests entering the country that test positive for COVID-19 are properly contained and monitored to ensure tourism workers safety.

“There is concern in terms of, how should I say it, with the ensuring that persons, I’m talking about the guests now, who have contracted COVID to make sure that they are properly contained and quarantined, and they are monitored. Pretty much the same way if you or I were to catch it, there is a quarantining period where we have to stay home, and the various reporting is done just to make sure. But the concern that we get from them is better control for persons who have been known to have tested positive, especially in the industry. How do you kind of contain them to a particular area or room or whatever have you?”

When asked if the government is doing enough to protect hotel workers from guests who test positive for COVID he said:

“Yes, I think the government needs to look at it, but I guess you could say they are probably trying to do a balancing act. Because they don’t want to frighten – my words – the guests, or tourists from coming to the country, but at the end of the day whatever is necessary.”

Mr Woods noted that while the latest strain of COVID is very easily transmittable he thinks that people need to take the necessary precautions to keep the situation from getting too far out of hand, including continuing to follow the relevant safety protocols.


John 5 months, 1 week ago

The Omicron variant may have already PEAKED inThe Bahamas! The reasons why the numbers may not clearly indicate this yet is because there has been an increase in the number of people being tested for Covid as well as the frequency at which they are being tested. So if a large percentage of the population are hotel workers and are required to be tested twice a week, this increases the frequency of testing. And is some tested positive but are anxious to return to work and test regularly it also increases the number of tests. So does the new free tests. And, unlike South Africa, there are stil persons traveling and contracting the Delta variant. This strain not only causes more acute illnesses, but it lasts longer. So if a person frequently tests then it can skew the number of positives. But shortly the fact that the Omicron has peaked here will be more obvious. And will the Omicron disappearance mean the final end to Covid-19?


tribanon 5 months, 1 week ago

These ridiculous testing requirements are all about ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching for the select few who are profiteering off of all of this non-sensical testing that has now been proven to serve no public safety purpose whatsoever. All of this testing has done absolutely nothing to address treating the risk of serious illness caused by variants of the Wuhan Virus.

All of the money being poured by government into testing should instead be used to ensure our public health system has an ample supply of the low-cost therapeutics now known to be very effective in fighting variants of the Communist China Virus.

Darrin Woods is doing absolutely nothing for the union members he should be looking out for. Truly pathetic.


John 5 months, 1 week ago

Both testing and vaccines are abused and misused. Despite data showing the Omnicron respects no vaccines or booster shots, Bahamians are still lining up like sheep to a slaughter to be vaccinated. Even after recovering from Omicron. Then the children!


whogothere 5 months, 1 week ago

Great data here showing the impact of the vaccine mix on myocardial outcomes..shocking really.. 777 per million worse case...there quite possibly needs to be a criminal investigation..They pushed something that wasn't safe....



ThisIsOurs 5 months, 1 week ago

cnn.com -

"data from New York is offering a glimmer of hope.

The state is "turning the corner on the winter surge," Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday. After a peak positivity rate of 23% on January 3, it's now 16.3% and Covid-19 hospitalizations have also started to decline, she said at a news conference"

So, signals from multiple intl locations say the Omicron cycle "should" be much shorter than previous cycles. Time will tell. For goodness sake can we learn something this time? Can we not start rejoicing because Omicron is gone, throw all BORDER caution to the wind only to start ripping our clothes, covering ourselves in ashes and gnashing our teeth when the tourists bring the next variant? Can we at least remain vigilant and cautious knowing theyre the most likely trigger for a possible 6th wave? The biggest opportunity for this to happen would be an exponential tourust party, i.e. carnival. Ministry of Tourism, dont be surprised


whogothere 5 months, 1 week ago

Buddy I agree with most of your posting but were I diverge is really belief that there is any precaution that actually works - you might as well being trying to stop a the tide with a baseball bat. We cratered our economy for nothing. We robbed our children's educations for nothing. We destroyed businesses for nothing.. We are complacent because we sat by and let it happen. I said it in the beginning we can't hold our breadth and wait for covid to disappear...If you are still scared of COVID you must be either very old, very sick or very fat...the rest of society should definitely be rejoicing because it's done...essentially 1/3 third (8000 out of 29000) of our cases in the last 5 weeks - no deaths, no ventilations, 6 people in ICU.. It is F*cking done!


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