Governor John Rankin chaired Cabinet meetings on April 28 and May 5 at the Financial Services Commission’s Conference Room in Pasea. All members were present.

April 28 meeting

During the April 28 meeting, the Cabinet took the following actions, according to a summary provided by the Cabinet Office.

1. Decided that Dr. B. Clarissa Layne’s appointment as member of the Teaching Service Commission be extended for a further period of three years with effect from Feb. 1, 2021.

2. Considered and approved a no-quarantine period for fully vaccinated cruise ship passengers and crew to allow cruise lines to confirm the proposed calls to the Virgin Islands when the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park fully re-opens in June and:

a. agreed, in principle, that passengers will be permitted to disembark the ship in controlled intervals and participate in “social bubble shore excursions;” and

b. decided that the details of the “social bubble shore excursions” be developed and presented to the Cabinet by a working group led by the permanent secretary in the Premier’s Office and including the following members: the junior minister for tourism; the Health Emergency Operations Centre Command Unit Team; a representative of the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park; the chair of the BVI Tourist Board; the director of tourism; the chair of the BVI Ports Authority; the managing director of the BVIPA; the customs commissioner; the chief immigration officer; the director of the Taxi and Livery Commission; and any other officials as required.

3. Decided to grant approval for payment of works carried out by Union Property Company Limited to retrofit office accommodation for the Social Development Department at Botanic Station; to waive the tender process in the amount of $121,063 and ratify after the occurrence of the expenditure; and that government enters a formal agreement with Union Property Company Limited in the above amount payable in monthly instalments over a period of five years.

4. Decided:

a. that the following people be re-appointed to the Board of Immigration for a period of two years with effect from May 1, 2021: Chairman Glen Harrigan and members Rosalia Gardener and Roxanne Sylvester;

b. that the following people be appointed to the board of immigration for a period of two years with effect from May 1, 2021: members Shane Baptiste, Coy Levons, Rexella Hodge, Kimberly Seagojo, along with the chief immigration officer as an ex-officio member;

c. approved a monthly stipend to be paid to the chairman at a rate of $1,200 and to members at a rate of $800.

5. Decided that:

a. pursuant to section 12 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Cap. 237, relevant government ministries, offices and departments should, subject to the advice of the attorney general, seek actively to participate in the COI;

b. having regard to Rule 13 (6) of the COI Rules, published by the commissioner on April 13, the relevant government ministries, offices and departments should participate in the COI through the attorney general and be represented by leading counsel, Sir Geoffrey Cox QC, who is appointed and instructed by the attorney general to advise and represent her; and

c. that each relevant government ministry, office and department should make appropriate arrangements to enable the attorney general, and counsel appointed by her, to carry out a full objective review of those matters under its responsibility that the attorney general or counsel advises are necessary to be examined in connection with preparing for participation in the COI.

6. Approved two non-belonger land holding licence applications.

May 5 meeting

At the May 5 meeting, the Cabinet took the following actions.

1. a. Considered and approved the bill titled Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act, 2021, which seeks to increase: fines related to illegal entry and smuggling; the Chief Immigration Officer’s powers to compound offences; and the length of time issued to people holding non-belonger land holding licences to remain in the territory;

b. decided that the bill be introduced in the House of Assembly for its first reading at the next convenient sitting; and c. considered and approved the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Regulations, 2021, which seek to address Schedule Three of the regulation by introducing fees for non-belonger land holding services, and decided that the regulations be published in the Gazette and thereafter be tabled in the House of Assembly at the next convenient sitting.

2. Decided that Pastor Calvin Mills (chairman); Keturah Crabbe (deputy chairwoman) and Wistaria Donovan be re-appointed as members of the Public Assistance Committee for a period of three years with effect from Feb. 3, 2021 to Feb. 2, 2024 and that Trisha Evans be reappointed as a member with effect from March 22, 2021 to March 21, 2024.

3. Decided:

a. that the BVI Gateway fee shall be reduced to $105 for fully vaccinated travellers; and $70 for fully vaccinated day trippers leaving the territory;

b. that where a fully vaccinated traveller is accompanied by one or more unvaccinated children aged 5-17, and the child’s and party’s arrival tests are negative, the child will be released from quarantine together with their parents/guardian, but must only roam within their “family bubble” and be subject to a further test at day four;

c. that where a travelling party includes fully vaccinated and unvaccinated adults, the entire party will be treated as unvaccinated;

d. that a fully vaccinated traveller may be approved for home quarantine in a residence where all adult occupants are fully vaccinated, if the traveller/party is provided with a separate bedroom;

e. to amend the list of restricted countries under the Immigration and Passport (Prohibition of Entry) Order, 2021 to apply only to Brazil and India;

f. that people travelling from Brazil and India will be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival, provided they undergo a five-day rt-PCR testing regimen prior to arrival and on days 0 and 14;

g. that unvaccinated travellers from non-restricted countries should now be required to quarantine for a period of seven days;

h. that partially vaccinated travellers must be quarantined for a period of four days upon arrival;

i. that a person seeking to be certified as a “day tripper” should apply for re-entry through the Gateway prior to departure from the VI;

j. that fully vaccinated day trippers can travel with children who are under 5 years old;

k. that refusal by a returning “day tripper” to undergo day seven testing would be subject to a fixed penalty of $5,000 or a court penalty of $10,000 on summary conviction;

l. that the HEOC present the Cabinet with recommendations for rapid or PCR testing for frontline workers and public officers;

m. that the Ministry of Health and Social Development instruct the attorney general to draft the amendments to the Immigration and Passport (Prohibition of Entry) Order, 2021, and the Covid-19 Control and Suppression (Entry of Persons) Regulations, 2021 necessary to give effect to the agreed policy changes; and

n. considered that given both the wish to re-open the territory to tourism and the need to mitigate the risks arising from increased travel, particularly arising from new variants, that the period for quarantine for unvaccinated travellers be extended from four days to seven days.

This information was provided in a summary Gazetted on May 13.