Covid-19 | Tai denies new workplace restrictions violate disease control law

A new measure restricting workers’ access to their workplace unless they have been vaccinated or undertake frequent Covid-19 tests is not a violation of disease control laws, according to neurosurgeon Tai Wa Hou, medical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital.
Speaking at the regular press conference yesterday, Tai was questioned by the press about whether the new measures issued by the Health Bureau (SSM) and follow-up measures levied by the Public Administration and Civil Services Bureau (SAFP) may be a potential violation of the law.
The SSM has issued a notice that requires all workers to either get the Covid-19 vaccine or have a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test every seven days in order to go to work.
The SAFP later issued a notice requiring all civil servants to get at least one dose of the vaccine or get tested every seven days in order to go to work. Failure to comply with the requirement, the SAFP noted, will result in the worker not being allowed to enter their place of work. The absence will be considered unreasonable.
Article 25 of the Contagious Disease Prevention and Control Law allows the government to place entry and exit restrictions on visitors to specific areas or venues. This article also includes other clauses concerning other restrictions.
However, Article 26 of the law protects individuals from being discriminated against. It states that no person may be discriminated against in relation to education, employment, choice of residence, purchase of services, and other circumstances, on the grounds of having been infected, suspected of having contracted or being at risk of contracting a contagious disease.
In addition, Article 27 of the law stipulates that absences of civil servants which are caused by restrictions imposed under Article 25 shall be considered justified and reasonable.
The neurosurgeon did not agree with this view. He said that the new measures do not restrict workers’ access to their workplaces. “It isn’t restrictive. Either they get vaccinated or tested, [and] they will be allowed in,” Tai said. “They have a choice.”
“Even with either vaccination or test results, they still won’t be admitted to their workplaces. […] They still need the health code,” the neurosurgeon added.
He did not agree that any of these measures, such as the vaccination requirement and health code, constitute a restrictive apparatus. “These are disease-control measures that have to be [abided by],” he said.
“If an individual doesn’t do it, they have chosen not to. It’s not that we have restricted their freedom,” Tai said, adding that he personally does not consider the measures to violate the law.
In relation to the new measures, individuals can undergo certain medical evaluations to prove that they are medically unable to receive a vaccine. Yesterday, Tai announced that members of the public can approach any vaccination station or government health center to be assessed.
The government is also establishing a new Vaccination Suitability Assessment Taskforce to handle tougher cases where frontline doctors do not have enough information or are not comfortable making a specific determination.

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