The standards that businesses must meet ahead of the Dec. 1 border reopening became a bit clearer this week with new information released about “gold seal” staff training requirements.
However, a website that was due to be launched on Monday with more information about entry requirements had not gone live as of press time yesterday afternoon.
According to the “BVI Tourism Industry Reopening Guide” recently provided to businesses by the BVI Tourist Board, hospitality businesses must meet three main requirements before serving tourists.
The guide says all staff must participate in industry training; all businesses must pass an environmental health inspection; and except for taxi drivers and villa owners, all hospitality businesses must nominate a Covid19 officer to work with government and ensure they are following the pandemic protocols. Businesses can fulfil the government-mandated training through a collaboration between the BVI Tourist Board, the Environmental Health Division, and H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.
Website not live
Mr. Fahie announced early last week that visitors would be able to read more about the specific entry requirements with the Monday launch of a “traveller’s authorisation portal” administered by the BVI Airport Authority at www.bvigateway.bviaacloud.com.
However, as of yesterday afternoon, the launch was still pending.
Governor Gus Jaspert said in a Monday press release that the VI received confirmation that overseas territories can expect to get access to any Covid-19 vaccine procured by the United Kingdom.
Mr. Jaspert said he received word from UK Minister for Overseas Territories Baroness Liz Sugg of the country’s “unwavering commitment to working in partnership to tackle Covid-19.”
However, the details of what would be allocated to the VI depend on the nature of the vaccine and its availability, according to the press release.
“I am pleased that the UK has made this commitment, and although the exact details have yet to be worked out depending on the vaccine procured, it is a clear signal of the UK and BVI’s special partnership,” Mr. Jaspert said. “Our health services and public officials have been doing a fantastic job to fight Covid-19, and I hope this promise of support from the UK will be an extra boost to help defeat the virus.”
In a letter to Ms. Sugg, Mr. Fahie wrote that the news was comforting but added a word of caution.
“We must bear in mind that there are persons in our society who, for religious or other beliefs, do not subscribe to the taking of vaccines, and we do have to be respectful of that when the time comes,” Mr. Fahie added. “Notwithstanding this, the people of the Virgin Islands would be grateful and happy to receive supplies of the vaccine when it becomes available, for which I thank the UK government in advance.”
Mr. Fahie also noted the need to have appropriate facilities in place for the VI to stock one potential vaccine that he said has special storage requirements. He asked for further details so the territory could prepare.
Building back better
Mr. Fahie also recently chaired an online panel concerning “Challenges for the Caribbean to Build Back Better from Covid-19” at the 38th session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean on Oct. 26-28.
During the virtual session, he said the pandemic has “generated a new sense of urgency to address holistically the challenges faced by the heavily indebted middle-income countries of the sub-region already suffering from high exposure to natural disasters and climate change,” according to Government Information Services.
“Rarely do we get an opportunity such as these urgent circumstances present to demonstrate the complex, multidimensional nature of Caribbean challenges and vulnerabilities and to advocate for a uniquely blended response to ensure the survival of the countries of the sub-region during these very challenging times,” Mr. Fahie said.
The VI government and the United Nations Development Programme Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean also signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday, solidifying a commitment to strengthen partnerships in sustainable development in the Caribbean “in the times of Covid-19 and beyond,” according to a press release about the MOU.
The MOU follows the June release of the UNDP’s Human and Economic Assessment of Impact, a report that examined the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the territory.
“The agreement focuses on strengthening the UNDP/BVI partnership in order to further address the socio-economic impacts of Covid-19 and other external shocks such as natural disasters, financial crises or pandemics,” according to the statement.
Mr. Fahie said he was enthusiastic about developing deeper relationships to address such issues.