Though he admits that closing the territory’s borders during the recent COVID-19 outbreak came at a high cost, Premier Andrew Fahie said the action helped to spare many lives in the BVI.
In an address to the territory on October 26, Premier Fahie said although COVID-19 has taken many lives globally, the BVI avoided many deaths because of the quick and decisive actions taken by the government to suppress the virus at its onset.
“Thankfully, we have mostly been spared here in the BVI, in large measure because of our early and decisive action in being proactive by putting all the necessary measures in place, including closing our borders,” Premier Fahie said.
He admitted that the economy has suffered much from the actions taken by the government in the last few months. But he maintained that alternative options would have had far worse consequences for the BVI.
“These decisions were not made lightly, and yes, it did come with a high cost – though not as high as the alternative options. But what choice did we have, really? For any responsible government, the answer is clear – lives come first; all lives matter,” Premier Fahie said.
Many have criticized the government for closing the territory’s borders for some seven months and for implementing numerous curfews that limited people’s movement in order to eradicate the COVID-19 virus.
The government continues to maintain that the measures are meant to prevent a spread within the community which has already had one COVID-related death.
BVI is resilient
During his address, Premier Fahie sympathised with the struggles the territory has been facing, saying: “I am actually aware that the last seven months have wreaked havoc on many families, and it is far from over.”
But he said he is encouraged by the resilience he has seen in the “resourceful and hard-working people.”
“I have seen our children, whose education was disrupted and whose social development severely impacted in their formative years, power through this period with the use of technology, and today, most appear to not have missed a beat,” Premier Fahie said.
He also hailed businesses that adjusted their operations in order to make a living after the outbreak started.
“I have seen businesses transform their operations overnight, to cater for remote work, and somehow, many survived, and we have also seen some thrive in this unprecedented era. I have seen workers laid off in the hospitality sector turn their attention to agriculture and small business start-ups, honing skills that many probably did not even know they had,” Premier Fahie said.
He also reminded the territory that the BVI’s resources and infrastructure are not as vast as other countries. As a result, Premier Fahie said the BVI cannot respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the same way as wealthier nations are.
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