Though the British Virgin Islands will not enter a full lockdown, a new curfew order is coming into effect and will restrict the movement of persons from 1:01 pm to 5 am daily.
Governor Augustus Jaspert made this announcement during a live public broadcast Tuesday morning, September 1.
He said a full lockdown was an option but Cabinet agreed that it would come at a significant cost to the social, economic and mental state of residents.
“We want to avoid this if at all possible so as to not to put additional hardship on individuals who are already facing a very challenging time. Therefore, a new curfew order will come into force tomorrow (September 2) for two weeks,” he said.
“This means you must stay within the confines of your home or yard between these hours (1 pm and 5 am). We need everyone to stay at home as much as possible,” he stated, adding that the limited free-time is to access essential items such as groceries, medicine and for exercise purposes.
He continued: “Please do not gather in groups, visit another household or engage in non-essential activities. When you do go out, you must wear a face mask that fully covers your nose and mouth.”
In the meantime, insurance companies, as well as businesses providing essential services, remittance services and other select services are exempted under this new curfew order.
They must, however, adhere to the social distancing, hand hygiene and other health protocols in place.
Governor Jaspert added that the current restrictions on the movement of vessels on the territorial waters remain in place unless they are otherwise authorised.
New beach hours
To reflect the new curfew order, all beaches will be closed at 12 noon to ensure individuals can be back at home by 1 pm.
“You may only visit beaches for exercise, not for meeting with groups or having parties,” he pointed out.
He said schools will remain closed and will be reviewed every two weeks. Teachers, however, will be allowed to access their classrooms to prepare learning materials and online resources.
Full compliance in effect
In the meantime, Governor Jaspert said the government would be taking a hard stance against persons who break the rules.
He said plans are underway to enhance the police enforcement dan Social-Monitoring Task Force.
He explained that these entities would be visiting establishments and patrolling public places.
“There will be a zero-tolerance policy for individuals or businesses breaking the rules. The law is being changed to remove warnings for first offences. If you are found to be breaking the curfew or failing to wear a face mask or social distance, you could be issued a fine on the spot – $100 for individuals and $1000 for businesses,” Jaspert said.
He added: “Businesses can risk being shut down if they fail to enforce social distancing measures or open without authorisation. Individuals will also be able to report non-compliance or any concerns to the Police by calling 311. Please all take responsibility for keeping us all safe.”
The governor then called on residents to comply with these measures and remain home, follow the guidelines and the curfew order. This, he said, was the only way to avoid a full lockdown.
“To those individuals and businesses not complying – this is the moment you need to change the approach for the sake of the community. Failure to follow these measures is selfish and puts everyone at risk. The only way to avoid a full 24-hour lockdown is for every single individual to comply,” Governor Jaspert stated.
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