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Vaccine Passports-a bag of mixed feelings

Business

Ntsoaki Motaung

News from the Prime-Minister’s Office as regards the country’s mitigation plans in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and the use of vaccine passports, has been received with mixed feelings by stakeholders in the entertainment, sports and politics arenas.

This after last Sunday’s national address by the Deputy-Prime Minster Mathibeli Mokhothu on the country’s mitigation plans where he announced that, in reiteration to the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s earlier October 10 national address, some crowd-pulling activities and services would only be accessed by those with vaccination cards as indication of having taken the covid-19 jab.

The places to be accessed by the people with vaccination cards include liquor stores, gyms, nightclubs, political rallies, restaurants, public gatherings (lipitso), sports grounds and entertainment events.

In an interview with Newsday, popular events’ organizer and veteran club Dj Tseko Mamonyane, scoffed at the move which he labeled government’s plan to kill the business of the entertainment and recreation industry with discriminative mitigation initiatives.

Kuna, as the disc jockey is also known, took swipe at government’s now rather normal move to target events first all the time as if to disregard fact that it is an industry which sustains lives.

“The requirement should first be implemented at government entities like Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), Ministry of Transport Traffic department and border gates or ports of entry where they as government collect revenue. I feel like in order to see if the requirement will be practical the government has to implement it first on government entities. Since the beginning of the pandemic events have been sidelined,” said Mamonyane.

He indicated that it is not something that is practical to request someone who is going to the event where they are going to have fun with a possibility of taking alcoholic beverages to carry their valuable documents with them.

“What happens when the vaccine passport is lost? Nothing was said about that. Or will the person be expected to get vaccinated again in order to get another card?” he quipped, adding that even carrying IDs around is equally risky.

“On our side we have not yet prepared how we will carry out the government decision for people to produce proof of vaccination. What is going to happen is that we are going to look into what the government does and we will follow their lead. They expect us to get vaccinated but some of them are still afraid to get their jab,” he said.

For his part, President of the Lesotho Liquor and Restaurant Owners Association (LI&ROA) Motseki Nkeane, lauded the move as good thinking, which howbeit needed sufficient time to make it work.

“It was really a short time in between announcement and implementation because most of our customers have not vaccinated yet. It would be reasonable if this was implemented next year around January or March. Now this is going to sabotage our business and give an upper hand to those illegally trading in our field because they will just go on a rampage and continue trading without requiring that their revelers produce the requisite documents,” he said.

Nkeane indicated that at the moment their businesses are running as usual because “…we have not yet started requesting the documents because as yet we have not even received the forms that it was said we’d use to register our customers,” he said.

Addressing the politico front, Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Apesi Ratšele said his party has not decided or prepared how they will carry out the decision.

“As a party, we have not yet talked about the decision by government, but, personally, I do not think this is going to work. It would have been better if political rallies were completely closed,” he said.

Ratšele encouraged government to rather increase ease of access of vaccines by increasing the number of vaccination stations throughout the country than implementing impractical initiatives to get people to vaccinate.

On the other hand, the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA)’s Media Officer Mikia Kalati indicated that already LEFA has issued statement to their structures to prepare.

“To show our preparedness, all the members of staff of LeFA have vaccinated and it is one of our requirements now that when any person comes to our offices for services they should be vaccinated and should be able to provide proof,” he said.

Kalati stated that all people of 18 and above years will be affected by the requirement because they are eligible to get the vaccine. “People that are eligible for vaccine, when they visit LeFA premises including those who come to our compounds because they are going for camping, that is our National teams or players they should be vaccinated,” he said.

According to Kalati, the move will be warmly received by soccer spectators since everyone cannot wait to return to the stands to cheer their team, therefore “…I do not think it will have much negative impact on our sports to ask people to vaccinate”.

On 10th October the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro announced the covid-19 situation in the country, where indicated that cases have decreased and the pandemic was under control.

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