Some business owners have threatened to shut down operations in the BVI if COVID-19 health protocols aren’t relaxed to suit their business needs.
That’s the revelation made by Premier Andrew Fahie in the House of Assembly on November 25, as he justified the government’s continued efforts to fight COVID-19.
“I’ve been under pressure as the leader of the territory by persons who have threatened to take their investments out of here if I didn’t let them do what they wanted to do business-wise because of certain health protocols,” Premier Fahie expressed.
“I wanna say publicly to those persons here that anytime you decide to take your investments from the BVI because you’re against some of the health protocols, it means that you’re only here for what you can get. And it means that you don’t care about the people or your staff or our safety because we didn’t put them to try to destroy your business. We put them in to make sure that you’re alive,” he added.
The leader of government business further said the government will not relax the COVID-19 protocols to suit the rich while others in the territory are pressured to abide by the stringent protocols.
“And whether you’re rich or money-challenged, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. So they cannot have special protocols for the rich and separate ones for the financially challenged. It is the same across the board,” the Premier fired at his critics.
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He also sent a sound warning to tourism players in the marine sector who have said the four-day quarantine policy isn’t suitable for guests who stay on the waters.
Premier Fahie said this policy will not be relaxed as the government will not put lives at risk for a few who want to make money.
“I’m hearing persons trying to push me that they have persons on boats coming and they (tourists) can’t spend four days on the boat. Swim ’round the boat! Jump in the sea and swim ’round the boat! If you have a bubble area, make sure they don’t get in contact with anybody. And if we’re not sure about that, let’s reassess it,” Fahie said firmly.
“I cannot put the majority of the people’s lives in the Virgin Islands at risk for a few lawless people that just want to make money and still won’t be fair to their employees. I will not do it! There’s been a lot of people coming — I call them threats — trying to bully me to get me to do what they want,” the Premier added.
He continued: “Some of them leave very angry. Some have formed groups to come to pressure to put me in directions I know is not best for the people with our health.”
With five days to go before the December 1 reopening of the local tourism industry, the BVI’s COVID-19 protocols remain a source of contention with many claiming the rules will only deter visitors from travelling to the BVI.
The government remains adamant that the rules are necessary to prevent spikes similar to those in neighbouring countries.
At the same time, the government has urged the population to expect a soft reopening of the tourism industry as the travel industry is still trying to safely navigate the COVID-19 era.