British Virgin Islands premier and minister of finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie has announced that the territory’s borders will open to international visitors on December 1. The premier, while addressing the launch of the “BVILOVE” tourism campaign on Monday, said that the government is optimistic and is vigorously preparing for the reopening.
The premier said that the government intends to reopen the territory in the safest way possible, using science and technology as a guide. “This next phase also comes with a risk factor, where if a case of COVID-19 gets into our territory, then it can go through the whole community very quickly. That is why we must use technology,” Premier Fahie said. “The concentration must be to use the technology through a simulation prior, to demonstrate that the technology will complement the science to greatly assist us in re-opening in the safest way, humanly possible.”
The premier added that the residents of the Virgin Islands must also do their part to suppress the spread of the virus. “Please note that we who are in the Virgin Islands must also play our part and play it well to ensure that we adhere to all approved social distancing measures. This will also reduce or eliminate any possible spread of the virus,” he said.
The government of the BVI is using a phased approach to reopen the territory’s borders. Phase 1 of the controlled border reentry process commenced on June 2 for Virgin Islands, belongers, naturalized citizens and permanent residents.
Phase 2 of the reentry process, which began on September 1, allowed for several new categories to be permitted into the territory, including work permit holders, residing entry permits, such as retirees and homeowners; students of locally based medical schools and the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College; persons employed by the government, teachers and diplomats, among several others. Phase 2 also allows for the entry of aviation crew, maritime crew, healthcare practitioners/medical staff, emergency maintenance, repair and technical personnel, and other essential specialized workers in the territory for no longer than five days.
According to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, the BVI has had 69 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and only one death.