Halls of justice
While covering High Court this week, a Beaconite saw the transition from the Sakal building in Pasea back to the official Virgin Islands Supreme Court building. In her view, the building has a historical charm, but she could see the practical reasons for needing a new Halls of Justice. The individuals in charge of organising the courtroom space have certainly done a commendable job of making it functional. However, observing Covid-19 preventive measures only highlighted the importance of having adequate space for proceedings, especially should a case hold particular public interest. The premier said in February that the project was in its final development stages, and the Beaconite is eager to see it come to fruition. Just this week, she’s had conversations with too many people about how many institutions have fallen by the wayside, from museums to libraries to sports facilities to government offices. The list goes on and on. Meaningful progress on the Halls of Justice would be a boon to the territory, especially if opportunities are taken to celebrate the legacies of movers and shakers in the field.
Long Bay plan
A Beaconite is pleased that the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration is creating a detailed plan to manage Long Bay on Beef Island. Tucked away from large-scale development, and with a festive atmosphere and superb snorkeling, Long Bay has always been one of the Beaconite’s favourite beaches in the Virgin Islands. Though the ministry’s plan is in its infancy, it so far seems to strike a reasonable balance between the opportunity for vendors who contribute to the beach’s fun vibe and the natural beauty that draws people in the first place. However, he was not able to find the short video detailing the ministry’s “conceptual plan” on the government website or Facebook channel, and he was able to obtain it only after emailing a ministry official. As the government is rightly encouraging the public to give their thoughts on how the beach should be cared for, he encourages the ministry to make that video easily accessible on the government website.
US entry rules
Although a Beaconite has no shortage of issues with the Virgin Islands’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic, today she’s going to write about United States entry protocols and how they are harming not only the VI but every economy around the world that relies on tourism. Tourism is back in earnest here, but every visitor the Beaconite has spoken to has one main concern: getting back in. The pre-departure testing requirement is still the biggest hurdle to travel to and from the US. It excludes travellers who are understandably afraid of testing positive in a foreign country — even one that currently has relatively few cases — and facing quarantine at a massive cost of time and money. Testing itself is a hassle, and even though the test is quick, someone who has to test on Tortola, for instance, may have to give up a day trip to a sister island, taking money out of the pockets of businesses there. It also creates extra work for VI health workers to accommodate testing, when they no doubt have other patients to treat. Obviously, Covid-19 and all of its variants are already widespread in the US, despite these requirements being in place. Many countries, including the UK and some in Europe, are dropping testing requirements for vaccinated and in some cases unvaccinated travellers. Although the learning curve was massive, the VI is currently doing a decent job getting Americans in and out, and the Beaconite thinks the US should return the favour.