Since the territory’s spike in COVID-19 cases is linked to persons who have been smuggling themselves in and out of the BVI, non-locals found to be involved are being threatened with deportation.
This is according to Premier Andrew Fahie who said in an address on Tuesday his government will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to all guilty offenders.
He said: “Our residents and businesses must not be made to continue to suffer due to misconduct by a few persons out of greed and lack of respect for our Virgin Islands … Your Government will not allow the actions of a few individuals to endanger the welfare of the BVI and our economy.”
“Persons engaging in all or any illegal activities will be sought after vigorously and brought to justice. Those that need to be deported will be deported. The BVI will not be used as a hub for human smuggling to the USVI and also from the USVI to the BVI en route to their home country,” he added.
New task force to abruptly end smuggling
Premier Fahie also said a new task force will be established to “aggressively” halt smuggling in and out of the territory.
He did not specify whether the task force will be a separate component to the previously mentioned joint unit consisting of members from Her Majesty’s Customs, the Immigration Department and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.
However, he said the task force will be collaborating with the border security from the United States Virgin Islands.
“I say here again that our people and businesses should not be made to suffer for a few lawless people. BVI will not be a hub no more for these illegal activities. We are small in size and we cannot continue to allow this behaviour to continue,” Fahie stated.
Back to square one
The Premier further said his government had the economy back on the track to recovery but the actions of “lawless” persons has placed the territory almost back to square one.
The BVI went from having only a total of eight positive cases on May 28, to now 47 positive cases as of August 31.
Fahie said the increase in cases is because of residents “who have not been taking COVID-19 seriously and have not fully embraced the level of personal responsibility that is needed to reduce transmission of the virus.”
These include businesses and residents that have been failing to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.
Of the positive cases, 38 remain active.
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