Being out on the water for Saturday’s Wahoomania tournament brought back a lot of fond memories of family fishing trips for one Beaconite. There’s just nothing like being out on the water and experiencing the thrill of someone landing a fish — particularly when it’s a nice one. Twelve hours of sailing on waves big enough to send a person flying up in air is no easy-going day cruise, but the reporter found it an invigorating challenge to brace her feet against the boat’s console, steady her camera with both hands, and snap a photo of the exact moment the first wahoo landed on the boat. She owes a big thank you to the crew of the Salt Shaker for letting her join their expedition so she could cover the tournament up close, and for making her feel welcome. Congratulations to everyone who ventured out on Saturday, and to the organisers who pulled together such an enjoyable event. This reporter is eager to see what will come out of the days-long debate legislators have been holding about a farming and fishing regulation overhaul, which will ideally include measures to ensure the health of the Virgin Islands’ fisheries for generations to come.
A Beaconite is urging government offices to ease restrictions in keeping with the latest Covid-19 protocols. First, more people should be allowed in government buildings and offices, especially where the lines are long, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Labour and Workforce Development, and the Immigration Department. Such agencies can also add more chairs inside for customers to sit comfortably while they wait instead of baking in the sun as they’ve done for more than two years now. Also, since masks are only mandated inside if people are within three feet of each other, those who opt to not wear a mask and stay more than three feet away from others shouldn’t be punished or scolded for choosing to do so. The announcements came rather suddenly and establishments may need time to adjust. But the reporter urges the government to make more announcements about the changes and continue to lift restrictions to allow life to return to normal.
While reporting this week on the ongoing travails of the territory’s waste management system, a Beaconite was reminded of the importance of residents taking advantage of the territory’s recycling services. In the VI, private companies and non-profit organisations lead an impressive recycling regime that processes recycled waste within the territory. Recycling experts estimate that as much as 10 percent of the territory’s waste is currently recycled in plants across the territory, and plans are in motion to bump that number up. While recycling activists work hard to teach residents about proper waste management and implement strategies alongside government, the least residents could do is throw their recyclables in the right bin.
A federal judge on Monday reversed the United States’ federal mask mandate for transportation, making it time once again for the Virgin Islands to take stock of how it wants to present itself to visitors, most of whom come from the US, where masks haven’t been mandated at the state level for many months. Mask mandates are becoming a thing of the past in the US, the United Kingdom, Europe, and increasingly the Caribbean, with Jamaica being the latest country to have dropped them. Covid cases have gone up and down, but hospitalisations remain mostly low. Already in the VI, some restrictions involving outdoor masks and quarantines have been dropped, which is laudable, but these steps won’t make much difference for the average visitor. The fact is, Americans will now arrive after travelling on mask-optional planes for hours. When they arrive in the VI, they will for the first time be required to put on a mask and to sanitise their hands, on top of the testing and vaccine protocols. This may have worked fine during the early days of the pandemic, but is it currently the best first impression? The Beaconite’s friend, who owns a small shop in Road Town has already reported that American visitors seem bewildered when they walk into the shop and are asked to put on a mask (and are often yelled at to sanitise as well), and some turn and walk out, taking their business with them. Presumably these people aren’t trying to be rude or inconsiderate: It has simply been so long since they’ve been required to mask up that it surprises them and they decide it isn’t worth the hassle. The VI needs to seriously consider whether Covid-19 is the primary emergency facing the territory anymore, or whether economically struggling residents would be better served by doing everything possible to attract tourists away from the competition and get the economy humming again, for the benefit of all. If the latter, the Beaconite feels it’s time for the mandates to go.