Citizens and residents currently outside the territory will not be able to enter until June and will only be allowed access through one port of entry — the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island.
Governor Augustus Jaspert made the announcement during a national COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, April 15.
“Our borders will remain closed to incoming passengers until 6 am on June 2 in the first instance. This is important because the progress and the ability that we have to do a gradual safe phase reopening internally, relies on us not importing or bringing in any risk of the virus into the territory,” the Governor stated.
“I know that is very difficult for people with families, loved ones, workers outside of this territory, but this is the chance we have to ensure that we can do a gradual reopening internally in a safe way,” he added.
Hard Sea Border
Governor Jaspert further said that government will be taking a hard sea border approach to ensure that no one sneaks into the territory while the borders remain closed.
He said: “This means that to help this (the hard sea border), there will also be a ban on all private and commercial boats, other than internal ferries or freighting cargo boats on our territorial waters in this first phase.”
“It is important that the efforts of our security teams are focused on securing the marine border, and they need to be looking for any boats that are out on the water breaking those rules, and having lots of boats out at the moment will make their job harder,” the Governor explained.
For three months after June 2, only BVIslanders and residents will regain access into the territory. But, Premier Andrew Fahie said access will only be granted under strict conditions.
He said access will be “subject to a pre-approval of passenger information seven days in advance of travel, among other measures”.
Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking
Meanwhile, the Premier asserted that there will be a zero-tolerance approach by his government for human trafficking and crime.
In that regard, he said that additional manpower has been temporarily deployed at the ports of entry to reinforce border security.
“Public officers are being retooled and retrained for the new BVI, where Cabinet decided on a temporary redeployment of Immigration Officers, to join the joint task force with Her Majesty’s Customs and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force for the COVID-19 era,” Fahie stated.
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