Statement by the Minister for Health and Social Development
Honourable Carvin Malone
Cabinet Decisions on COVID-19 Response
April 23 2021
His Excellency, Honourable Premier, official colleagues.
The HEOC [Health Emergency Operation Centre] presented an update on the COVID-19 situation, including vaccination coverage, along with various considerations for modifying the border entry requirements for travelers who have been fully vaccinated.
A person is deemed to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after they have received both doses of an approved two-dose vaccine, such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna, and one shot of a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson.
These vaccines are shown to be effective in preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms and deaths.They also reduce transmission of the disease in settings where vaccination rates are high. However, these vaccines do not eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus from a vaccinated person to a non-vaccinated person.
The daily case rates in some countries such as the USA and Canada are increasing, reportedly because of the B:1.1.7 variant, which may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants.
This is why we have been encouraging everyone to get vaccinated while the vaccines are freely available, to protect both themselves and the people around them from the increasing risk of severe sickness and death.
We are encouraged by the uptake of the vaccine by ---- persons in the BVI, and the steady roll-out in countries around the world, as we prepare to welcome an increasing number of travelers to our shores over the coming weeks and months.
In light of these facts, Cabinet has agreed to make changes to the existing border requirements.
Effective 15th May 2021, fully vaccinated persons travelling from overseas would require a PCR test within five (5) days of travel, provide satisfactory evidence of being fully vaccinated, and will be subject to a PCR test upon arrival (day zero). Fully vaccinated persons will be quarantined until a negative test result is received from the BVI Health Services Authority. In other words, if the test administered on arrival returns a negative result, the fully vaccinated traveler will be immediately released from quarantine (unless they have been in close contact with a positive case).
Cabinet also decided that effective 15th May 2021, fully vaccinated persons who have been present in the Virgin Islands for a period of more than fourteen (14) consecutive days and travel to the USVI, St. Martin, or Puerto Rico for a period not longer than 24 hours are exempted from quarantine and the COVID-19 test upon re-entering the Territory. However, day-trippers to these neighboring jurisdictions would be required to take a PCR test seven (7) days after returning to the Territory.
In respect of restrictions on the assembly of persons, the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression Measures) (No. 3) Order, 2021 comes into effect today and provides the following:
Gatherings among vulnerable persons are not to exceed five persons, as certified by the Chief Environmental Health Officer.
All other gatherings are limited to one person per sixty-four square feet and shall not exceed two hundred persons at any given time; except or faith-based services; graduation ceremonies; wedding ceremonies; or funerals, which shall not exceed two hundred and fifty persons.
In relaxing the travel requirements for persons who have been fully vaccinated, and permitting larger gatherings, there will be an increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 among the resident population.
Prevention measures such as mask-wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing will remain in effect, and vaccines continue to be widely distributed while they remain in stock.
Again, I emphasize that vaccination is the best defense against the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and death.As a caring and responsible Government, we have taken extensive measures and made significant investments to safeguard the health and well-being of the people of the Virgin Islands against the threat of this deadly virus.
As we take further steps towards revitalizing the economy, restoring livelihoods that have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and regaining a sense of normalcy in our beloved Territory, I urge everyone to take personal responsibility for your health; and perform your civic duty for the safety of your family, friends, coworkers, customers, and community.