BVI: Govt’s travel protocols ‘impractical’ and an ‘overkill’

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Opposition Leader Marlon Penn

The recently announced travel protocols by Premier Andrew Fahie is being labelled as “impractical” by a number of the Opposition members.

Their statements came during the Opposition’s monthly media briefing held on Wednesday, October 28.

Opposition Leader Marlon Penn said the announcement showed the government’s lack of understanding of the BVI’s tourism industry.

He said the protocols have raised many concerns which he believes need to be amended if the territory is to revive its tourism sector.

“I want to quickly show just the level of how impractical these protocols are. Let’s take, for example, a family of five travelling to the Virgin Islands who would have to take essentially four tests for each person in that group, which would cost in the range of $2,700 per family. Additionally, there is an app, a portal, that is going to cost them $750, and before they even step foot in the BVI they have to fork up a cost $3,500 to come to the BVI. That is impractical,” Penn argued.

He added: “I listened to the Minister for Health last evening and it got me thinking. He said they have 11,000 test kits available and based on the protocols currently, if 200 persons come a day from December 1 to December 31st, we would run out of all of those test kits that we have, based on the four tests that persons have to take before the end of December. Is this a practical solution?”

It’s an overkill

Penn further said asking tourists to test four times during their stay in the territory is irresponsible and termed it an “overkill”. He said the cure should not be worse than the sickness.

“We are killing our economy. Do we understand that persons have not been working for eight months and if these cancellations continue, the season starts from December 15th to the 18th of April, and that means we would have lost an entire year of employment for many persons in this territory. A year of not paying rent, a year of hardly putting food on the table, a year of barely keeping your lights on,” he stated.

It’s a deterrent

Meanwhile, Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull who is the Representative for the Second District — a constiuency which heavily relies on tourism — said the protocols restrict the industry from recovering, causing more harm than good.

He said the protocols are a deterrent to businesses on Jost Van Dyke and revealed that the bookings for tourism-based businesses in Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay have all been cancelled as a result.

“Not that you’re opening the floodgates to do it all at once, you can still do it systematically. But do not put these stringent limitations because it’s not just limitations, you’re actually deterring people from coming to the territory in the first place,” Turnbull said.

“So, if you are going to open, open means, ‘I am welcoming you’. You ever gone to somebody house and they crack the door? That’s not an invite to come in. That’s a what you want? And that seems like what we’re saying,” he added.

Enable persons to quarantine on vessels

Turnbull further said he believes security mechanisms such as the BVI’s Joint Task Force, the various barges, and the Royal Navy Ship at sea, are measures can be implemented to allow visitors to safely quarantine on vessels.

“You can create measures where I am quarantining, I am doing my waiting period on this boat away from everybody. They have provisioners who these boaters and day trippers and charter boats already have. Let them provide the meals and the essentials to these people while they are quarantined and have the same tracking mechanism,” he explained.

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