A Virgin Islands representative recently shared the government’s ideas for safely reopening an island economy with political leaders, industry executives, civil society representatives and other stakeholders in the Pacific.

Special Envoy of the Premier Benito Wheatley joined a virtual panel discussion on the theme “Islands Rising for Economic Recovery” during the April 9 Conference on Island Sustainability organised by the University of Guam, according to a press release from Mr. Wheatley.

During his presentation, the special envoy recommended that authorities in Pacific islands ensure that protocols are in place to identify and isolate Covid-19 infections and prevent the spread of the disease, the press release stated. He also stressed the importance of vaccinations to reduce risks to the public as economies open to visitors.

“Lockdowns damage the engines of economic growth and are very costly,” he added.

Other panellists included Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr.; Samuel Shinohara, United Airlines managing director of operations for Asia/Pacific; and Henk Rogers, founder and board chair of the Blue Planet Foundation in Hawaii, according to the press release.

“Small island developing states in the Caribbean and Pacific should continue to share with each other their respective experiences in managing the Covid-19 global pandemic and the steps they are taking toward economic recovery,” Mr. Wheatley said. “The British Virgin Islands has been highly successful in containing Covid-19 while safely running the economy, which is open- ing up further as risks have decreased with the vaccination of the population.”