The British Virgin Islands’ response to COVID-19 has been presented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as a model for the Eastern Caribbean at the UN development agency’s official presentation of its joint reports with ISGlobal entitled, ‘COVID-19 Policy Reports for Recovery in the Eastern Caribbean: Analysis, Scenarios and Considerations for Opening to Tourism,’ launched at a virtual meeting on 30th March 2021.
In his opening remarks at the virtual meeting attended by representatives from the UN system, development partners and ambassadors and officials from countries across the Eastern Caribbean, Mr. Ugo Blanco, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS, highlighted the BVI’s leadership in the regional response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Carlos Chaccour of ISGlobal in his presentation on the report highlighted the health and entry protocols adopted by the BVI as highly effective in safely reopening and managing its borders to restart the tourism sector.
Special Envoy of the Premier Mr. Benito Wheatley made an official statement to participants as a special guest at the meeting. In his statement, Mr. Wheatley said,
“The British Virgin Islands’ approach to border management in the context of public health and the ongoing pandemic, fall within the recommendations of UNDP and ISGlobal, as highlighted in the report. At the same time, we are working diligently to accelerate vaccination of the population to reduce the risk posed to the public by COVID-19. This will allow health and social restrictions and entry requirements to eventually be eased so the tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors can fully function.”
However, Mr. Wheatley warned that hurricane season presents a potential risk to progress on economic recovery. In his statement, he said,“I would like to remind colleagues that the hurricane season begins in two months. We consider the biggest risk to our economic recovery from the pandemic in the latter half of the year to be potential disruptions from hurricanes, storms, excess rain and flooding. We do not want this particular risk posed to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by climate change to be lost in our dialogue about the pandemic. We must tackle both risks at the same time.”
The Special Envoy of the Premier thanked UNDP and ISGlobal for their support to the region and welcomed the British Virgin Islands being upheld as a model for COVID-19 response in the Eastern Caribbean following successful management of the pandemic, low numbers of cases and deaths and basic functioning of the economy relative to other countries in the region.
Permanent Secretary Dr. Carolyn O’Neal-Morton and Protocol Officer Dr. Lavon Chalwell-Brewley also attended on behalf of the Premier’s Office.