Remarks By Premier And Minister Of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie On Phase III Reopening Of Territory’s Borders November 10th, 2020

REMARKS BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE

PHASE III REOPENING OF TERRITORY’S BORDERS

November 10th 2020

 

Good day and God’s Blessings to everyone.

As we continue to move forward toward reopening our borders to welcome visitors on December 1, 2020.

I am pleased and humbled to say that we have been able to take another, and further look at the Phase III Testing Protocols, after getting additional feedback from many stakeholders from across the many sectors of the economy.

We are 15 days away from our reopening, and I am pleased to say that the different agencies from the public and private sectors are all collaborating in this endeavor in a manner that balances health and safety with our economy.

I am pleased to say that as we are successfully moving forward.

On 19th October, 2020 Cabinet approved a steering group to be the coordinator on behalf of the Premier to ensure a successful reopening of our borders to all travelers.

The official name of this steering group is the BVI Reopening Steering Group.

Again, it is the central liaison group among all Government ministries, statutory bodies and the private sector.

This group will make sure that all our efforts are in concert to achieve one BVILOVE goal — a successful reopening.

In addition, we have realised that there exist a need for the public to have their concerns immediately and accurately addressed, in order to improve in this area, this steering group is necessary.

The BVI Reopening Steering Group is chaired by Ms. Felice Swapp and being supported by the following members:

  • Ms. Lisa Winter – Member
  • Mrs. Angelle Cameron – Member
  • Permanent Secretary/Premier’s Office or designate;
  • Permanent Secretary/Ministry of Health or designate;
  • Chairman of the BVI Tourist Board;
  • Director of Tourism;
  • Managing Director of the British Virgin Islands Airport Authority or designate;
  • Chief Immigration Officer or designate;
  • Commissioner of Customs or designate;
  • Commissioner of Police or designate;
  • Chief Medical Officer;
  • Managing Director and/or Deputy Director of the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority or designate;
  • Director of Communications or designate; and
  • seven (7) persons to be nominated by the Premier

The Committee met today to set the tone for a successful reopening of the Territory on 1 December through the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport and 8 December through the marine approved areas.

It is important to note that all these efforts are being guided by the updated health policies to ensure, as much as humanly possible, the safety of our residents and visitors.

Through this Steering Group visitors will be more informed.

Through this Steering Group the health protocols of the BVI will be clearer.

These are some of the many advantages why your Government through the Premier’s Office has taken this new, but needed approach.

I look forward to our destination being certified.

I look forward to our inbound and domestic transport operators being certified.

I look forward to our hoteliers being certified; restaurateurs being certified, among many other subsectors of the tourism industry.

I look forward to our health services capabilities and responses being tested and ready.

I look forward to all Government agencies being aligned and ready to operate by official BVI health and safety procedures.

I look forward to the risk management approach being fully understood and adhered to by all.

And, I look forward to the health and safety operating parameters being met.

Indeed, we are moving forward as one people in BVILOVE.

I am pleased to inform you tonight that the Gold Seal COVID-19 Training is on the move.

Our Culinary and Hospitality Studies Department team at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, has designed this certification programme with assistance from the Premier’s Office and BVI Tourist Board to prepare workers to re-enter the Tourism Industry with health and safety at its core in this New Regular of living and working with COVID-19.

I am pleased to inform you tonight that the Gold Seal COVID-19 Training has a total of 3,278 registered participants to date from across various subsectors of the tourism industry. We look forward to all persons being trained and certified.

This is an important step as the Gold Seal certification will help us to establish controls in terms of ensuring that both visitors and residents are kept safe and are not put at risk.

I want to say here that there are those who are saying to open up (open up our borders) to make money, people and businesses are hurting.

We understand this plea, because COVID-19 has been a challenge for all of us, locally, regionally, internationally — Worldwide. We understand.

However, as a responsible Government, we know that reopening our borders in this COVID-19 era where the majority of the world is experiencing major spikes, calls for us to take a balanced and calculated risk that do not compromise the health, safety and wellbeing of our people, our visitors, and our economy.

That is why we will continue to take all precautionary measures so that we do not compromise the preparatory work we have done over the last 7 months that have keep us all safe.

While we want to ensure that our processes are seamless as we move into Phase III, we must all bear in mind that reopening our borders during this COVID-19 era where most of the world is experiencing record high spikes, is a risk, where if a case of COVID-19 gets into our Territory, and not managed properly, then it can go through the whole community very quickly.

That is why we will be using technology to complement the science to greatly assist us in re-opening in the safest way, humanly possible.

Toward this end, I must also say here that on the 6th November 2020, Cabinet met and agreed that:

  1. all travellers for entry to the Territory, inclusive of all citizens, Belongers, permanent residents and work permit holders, will be required to pay for the traveller app, monitoring bracelet and the required two tests (entry and four-day) at a total charge of $175 per person. This is significant reduction from what was previously mentioned.
  1. Cabinet also agreed that travellers or other persons will be charged $125 for any tampering or damage to the monitoring bracelet;
  2. Cabinet also agreed travellers requiring a test from a government facility to facilitate exit from the Territory will be charged seventy dollars ($70.00) per test; and
  3. Cabinet also agreed for the first three months, from 1st December, 2020 until 28th February, 2021, the cost of quarantine in a Government approved property will be met by the Government of the Virgin Islands only for the following categories of persons: citizens, Belongers, permanent residents and work permit holders, exclusive of meals.

I want to take this time to thank everyone in the public and private sector, Government officials, hardworking public officers who are burning the midnight oil and industry partners for coming together to make a difference.

I want to thank my elected colleagues for working around the clock as we ventilated, discussed, and deliberated the views of the people and businesses to strike the right balance.

As we move forward, I want to remind all of us that in the Virgin Islands we must continue to do our part and do it well to ensure that we adhere to all approved health and safety, and social distancing measures.

Remember to hold each other accountable because it is better to wear your mask than to be referred to in the past.

It is better to be six feet apart than to be six feet under.

Remember, wash your hands often with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Sanitise and please adhere to all other approved social measures that are in place to keep us safe, individually and for each business.

It is only by doing these important things that we can successfully live and operate in this “New Regular” of the COVID-19.

As we go forward, let us remember to operate in what comes naturally for us, which is our BVILOVE.

Let us go forward together, bolstering the BVI’s image locally, regionally and abroad by focusing on what makes the BVI a special destination and business jurisdiction – that is BVILOVE.

We will get through this, with GOD on our side, because God is with us, and where God is, we are, and where God is all is well!

So let me be the first to officially welcome all our residents and visitors who will be traveling to the BVI from 1st December, onwards.

I say welcome to BVILOVE.

I thank you.

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