Court closed or open?

On Friday, a Beaconite showed up to High Court at about 8:50 a.m. to attend a scheduled hearing for a defendant facing a murder charge. But the courthouse was deserted. The reporter promptly called the government switchboard, hoping to be patched into the office of the High Court registrar. Unfortunately, the switchboard seemed to be either off or busy (this was shortly before 9 a.m.), as the Beaconite’s first few calls were cancelled. Eventually, he was able to get through to the office and explain the situation. He was told that the hearing would be held virtually due to the pandemic, and that he would need permission before being sent the Zoom link to attend. Asking what he could do to expedite the process, the Beaconite was told to email the court. After hanging up, he remembered that emails are seldom the quickest way to accomplish anything, and he again called the office and asked if there was anything else to be done. The Beaconite was grateful when a representative from the court took his contact information and said that she would get back to him after inquiring if he was allowed to sit in on the virtual hearing. At 9:55 a.m., the Beaconite got a call from a senior official at the office, saying that the hearing was not closed and he would receive an email with the link shortly. He eventually received a Zoom link at 10:50 a.m., almost two hours after the hearing was scheduled to start. He clicked on the link and was admitted to the virtual waiting room that has become so familiar during the pandemic. But he was never let in to the meeting, and he eventually closed the tab at around 2 p.m. On Monday, the senior official, who was responsive and promptly returned calls, explained that there had been a communication error, and that the matter was already finished by the time he had received the Zoom link. She added that she was not in a position to explain exactly what went wrong, but that someone likely would contact the Beaconite to follow up. No one did. Though he now believes he has access to the permanent link used to log in to virtual High Court hearings, he is not sure whether this will grant him access to the proceedings in the future. When he asked if he would need to request permission each time he wants to access a virtual sitting, the senior official said she needed to speak to someone else before answering his question. He hasn’t heard back. The Beaconite appreciates her taking his calls and trying to connect him to the right people, but as most hearings at the High Court are supposed to be open to the general public, he is concerned that it is so difficult to be let into these virtual hearings.


Air Force Two

According to The Royal Gazette in Bermuda, the aircraft used to transport United States Vice President Kamala Harris — known as Air Force Two — took a pit stop in Bermuda on Saturday while on its way to this territory on a training mission. Only crew were aboard the craft, which stopped in Bermuda for technical support and fuel, the article stated. The jet’s primary passengers are the vice president, the first lady and members of the US Cabinet and Congress. Beaconites aren’t sure if the plane made it to the Virgin Islands or not, as attempts to confirm the report at the BVI Airports Authority were not successful.



In the Pacific

The Maldives, a tourism-dependent island nation struggling with a pandemic-related economic downturn similar to the Virgin Islands’, has announced a novel approach to bring visitors back: vaccines. The country is blessed with more vaccine doses than it needs for its own residents, and it is hoping to lure visitors with the strategy “visit, vaccinate and vacation.” Closer to home, the United States VI is reportedly distributing extra vaccines to visitors as well, though without explicitly announcing the practice as a tourism campaign. This territory also has more vaccines than are likely to be used for residents, and some of them are on the verge of expiring. With leaders already contemplating when and how to ease entry protocols for tourists, it wouldn’t be hard to offer them vaccines as well, and save time, money and effort.