Government is projected to spend more than $2 million for the 250 rooms it has leased to quarantine returning nationals.
Health Minister Carvin Malone disclosed that figure in response to questions from Opposition Leader Marlon Penn in the House of Assembly on Friday.
“There are 250 rooms that have been identified for contracting from 12 properties at a total cost — if contracted for the full period, which is up to 14th September — of $2,357,000,” Malone stated.
The document containing the full details of all expenses was not disclosed to the public but was submitted to all members of the House. According to the minister, the details in the document include the number of units in each of the properties, the rate charged for each room, the contract period of each facility, the meal plan for each quarantined person, and the name of all the proprietors.
Government covering meal expenses
The information provided on the meal plan prompted Penn to further query whether the government was also covering that cost during the 14-day quarantine period.
In response, Minister Malone confirmed that the government was indeed covering the food bill as it is an obligation under the BVI’s Constitution.
He said: “It is important to note the whole concept of mandatory quarantine. Just like in other facilities, if you mandatorily have a person under quarantine you are responsible for feeding them. It is a constitutional issue that we have.”
“Those persons that have home-quarantined, who have chosen to come earlier and stay in their homes; that responsibility is not there,” he added.
Work permit holders to cover own cost
The minister, however, said government will only fund the mandatory state quarantine expenses for nationals, Belongers, or BVIslanders; not expatriate residents with no status.
“It is a different criteria and a different set of responsibilities for work permit-only persons coming in, as they would have to underwrite the cost of being quarantined,” Malone stated.
No more home quarantined
Meanwhile, the minister said Cabinet has also decided to halt all further home quarantining.
“After the 15th [of June], a decision was made that we would not seek to have any further home quarantined space, only because of the cost of security and of the persons who have sought to violate this.”
To compensate for this decision, Malone said Cabinet has decided to contract up to 100 additional rooms if the number of persons returning warrants that capacity.
Initially, the government had announced that from June 2 to 15, persons who had approved private quarantine facilities were allowed into the territory.
Cabinet had decided that after the June 15 date, all persons returning into the BVI will have to undergo their mandatory 14-day quarantine period within a government-provided quarantine facility.
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