The privacy question is an interesting one. When the vaccine was first rolled out, I wanted to tell the world I’d been vaccinated, showing off my card. You just assume that everybody thinks the same way. But, actually, that’s not the case.
You learn very quickly, especially regarding client meetings. We have very few in-house meetings at the moment, but some clients do come in. Almost immediately the first question is, have you been vaccinated? It changes the dynamic in the meeting room. It’s a difficult one to navigate from an employment law perspective, particularly as the Turks & Caicos Islands is very litigious in that area; employees bring claims all the time. It’s always about managing employees effectively and minimising those employment law issues.
To explain, we have a system where you can bring a complaint in respect of any aspect of your employment to the Employment Services Department here.
It can become very contentious very quickly. On the one hand we can cite the laws, the regulations and the employment law concepts on privacy and other issues, but on the other there can be a lot of misinformation and it can be difficult to navigate that at times.
We have a similar provision here in our Constitution as you would have in the European Convention on Human Rights, which does protect your right to privacy but it’s not an unqualified right.
Our courts would apply those principles in the same way as the European Court would. We’ve had cause recently to examine the case heard in the European Court of Human Rights which considered whether public health laws in the Czech Republic which require all residents to undergo a set of routine vaccinations amounted to a violation of the individual’s right to privacy. The European Court found that the Czech authorities did not exceed their margin of appreciation and the measures were necessary. Those same considerations would be applied here: once there is a legitimate public health concern and a legitimate objective that you’re trying to protect, then the privacy laws are subject to that and the interference with those rights can be justified.
The overriding economy in the TCI is tourism and most businesses are very much people focussed. It’s about trips, travel, restaurants, small boat operators, physical face-to-face interaction, which is the only way that that tourism model is can work, really. You can’t have a virtual boat tour… all of this would be taken into consideration when determining whether an interference with the right to privacy is justifiable or not.