Premier Andrew Fahie is urging businesses in the local hospitality industry not to allow their guests to dictate their own COVID-19 health protocols when the territory reopens its borders to visitors from December 1.
The Premier made that appeal during the debate process of the Bill entitled, ‘COVID-19 Control & Suppression (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) (No.2) Act, 2020’, which was passed in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
With the legal framework for the protocols now in place, Fahie said the BVI will not be accepting any negligent behaviour as it relates to health protocols.
“I’m appealing to our fine business people not to allow what I have seen happen in other parts of the world where for the warmth of a dollar, we allow the guest to do what they want to do and ignore the protocols and put the staff and as a result their children, their spouse, their in-laws and their grandparents and mothers in danger,” Fahie stated.
He added: “They’re not COVID-19 specialists, they’re not doctors and it will be unfair for us to ask the people of the Virgin Islands to adhere and they adhere to all the measures, then to have a few people come and break the rules and dictate the pace for us and create cases where we would have to be looking about whether to shut down or not.”
One PCR test not enough because of COVID’s ‘incubation period’
While declaring his support for the legislation, Deputy Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley said he believes there is a wide misunderstanding of the incubation period of the virus. He said this ignorance explains why so many people may be against the BVI’s COVID-19 travel protocols.
The legislator said while most people believe tourists entering the BVI with one negative PCR test should be enough to roam freely, it poses a great danger to the society based on how the virus develops.
“There was a video where the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley was speaking and she spoke eloquently about why we need additional tests to that negative PCR test that you walk with. And it is for that very same reason that I am speaking now. There is something called an ‘incubation period’,” he said.
“It means that you can test negative for the virus that causes COVID-19 and you still have COVID-19. But the viral load is not large enough to be detected via tests. And it will take you at least four to five days to be able to pick it up on a test. So you have some countries who are letting in persons just with a negative PCR test and then you find that this person ends up testing positive, and by that time they would have spread the virus throughout the society,” Dr Wheatley explained.
Details of the Bill
Health Minister Carvin Malone outlined some of the key elements of the legislation, which will be enforceable from December 1.
He said: “The COVID-19 Control & Suppression Entry of Persons Regulations of Persons 2020, will allow for the entry of persons travelling in the territory including persons who are deemed to belong to the territory, persons who are holders of certificate of residence, work permit holders, and tourists. [They] will be subject to specific requirements and conditions including testing, monitoring, quarantine and self-isolation measures protecting public health, and for the prevention, control and suppression of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and for any other purpose provided there it.”
As previously announced, all persons entering the territory will have to register on the BVI Gateway Travel Application Portal and download the approved app software.
A negative certified COVID-19 PCR test that must be obtained five days before entry, along with evidence of a travel insurance policy must also be provided by the traveller.
With the exception of Belongers and residents, a person entering the BVI with a positive COVID-19 test will not be able to enter the territory.
Social distancing and mask-wearing must be adhered to as outlined by the provisions.
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