PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
COVID-19 IS NOT PLAYING AROUND WITH US
Good day and God’s Blessings to everyone.
We continue as a Territory to move forward with the phased and restricted reopening of the borders in the Virgin Islands.
At this time, only the airport at the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport is opened.
We continue to welcome home nationals, belongers, holders of permanent residence, and naturalised citizens of the Virgin Islands. All persons returning to the Territory undergo a full 14 days of quarantine where they are monitored for any symptom development. Persons are only released after successfully completing 14 days of quarantine and testing negative.
Just a few days ago, the Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone reminded us that COVID-19 could be undetectable in the early stages of infection. This is why quarantine and other precautionary measures are being observed in relation to every arriving passenger for the entire 14-day quarantine period. The Ministry of Health continues to monitor closely to ensure that safety and prevention of COVID-19 in the Virgin Islands.
While to date, we have not recorded any new cases of COVID-19, I am appealing to persons to continue social distancing by standing six feet apart from each other.
I am concerned that we are becoming complacent and we are not wearing our masks covering from our nose to our chin.
We are not washing our hands frequently when we are entering establishments.
I am asking customers and businesses to do their part as we continue to set an example for our young people.
Remember that each of us has a responsibility to keep the other safe.
Our economy is depending on us; our families are depending on us; our seniors are depending on us to get things right.
Persons are reminded to report any COVID-19 related symptoms to the Medical Hotline at 852-7650.
We are in this together to keep everyone safe.
The Cabinet of the Virgin Islands continues to meet in its regular Wednesday meetings to discuss Government policies.
We also focus on the ‘New Regular’ living and working with COVID-19. This is important because as with the rest of the world, we must continue to make the necessary adjustments and are incorporating the changes that this new experience is bringing with it.
Today, 1 July, Cabinet met and advised that the National Security Council instruct the Attorney General to draft a new Curfew Order No. 23 of 2020 to:
- maintain the curfew hours from midnight to 5:00 a.m. for a period of fourteen (14) days;
- increase the hours of access to the Territory’s beaches from 5:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.;
- allow private vessels to continue to use Territorial waters during full daylight hours from 5:01 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and
- allow ferries to operate in Territorial waters between 5:00 a.m. and midnight;
I also wish to say here that today Cabinet endorsed the COVID-19 guidance for Churches and other Faith-based Organisations, subject to review on a weekly basis.
There seemed to have been misconceptions following a stakeholder consultation meeting as the Ministry of Health and religious leaders were working together to develop the guidelines for Cabinet’s consideration.
There seemed to have been some discussions in those stakeholder meetings regarding the length of time that religious institutions would meet for services.
I wish to place on record that today was the first time Cabinet was able to see and review the guidance document that will support the safe conduct of religious proceedings and services in this ‘New Regular’ of living with COVID-19.
I wish to assure the public that the Government of the Virgin Islands will never try to put constrains on the work of the Lord, but will ensure that all is being done by all establishments in the Territory to keep people safe and healthy. The Ministry of Health will make the guidelines available to the churches and other faith-based organisations in short order.
It is important for the public to understand that although we are making step-by-step changes, there is still no known cure or vaccine for COVID-19. So we must continue to move forward in a controlled way.
Many countries are experiencing a spike or second wave of coronavirus, and with God’s help I pray that this will never be our reality. However, it is up to each of us to make sure that this does not become our reality.
We cannot afford to let our guards down.
We all must continue to social distance, standing six feet apart from each other, respecting that the persons next to you have a right to live a healthy life.
We all must continue to wash our hands for 20 seconds so that we are not spreading what we cannot see.
We must continue to wear our masks, specifically those that cover from our nose to our chin.
Each day that we, as businesses and customers, ignore these important steps as COVID-19 continues, we are putting our lives and establishments at risk.
Let us all continue to encourage each other to not get weary in well-doing.
We are in this together. Together we will defeat COVID-19 as we move collectively forward to reawaken and strengthen our economy as we work in protecting our Virgin Islands for present and future generations to come.
Remember, we are not playing around with COVID-19 because COVID-19 is not playing around it us.
I thank you.