Court of public opinion
While former Premier Andrew Fahie’s release from custody on bond is covered in this issue of the Beacon and has been reported by other Virgin Islands outlets, no foreign outlets seem to have published reports on this latest development in his legal saga. This is a far cry from Mr. Fahie’s earliest court appearances, which were covered by news organisations the world over. The story of Mr. Fahie’s arrest and his ensuing court appearances is no doubt a stunning one, so a Beaconite understands the widespread coverage. However, it feels unfair that, with the scheduled start of his trial looming, interest seems to have since waned. If newspapers and websites are going to publicise the allegations against Mr. Fahie, they should also publicise his claims of innocence, which will be most coherently and convincingly explained in the coming court proceedings. Ignoring this trial does a disservice to Mr. Fahie and to the VI, which is often covered by international media with precious little nuance.
Out of the woods?
A Beaconite is happy to see that the Virgin Islands may finally be out of the woods after three years of Covid-19. It’s been a long journey, and much has changed in the world. Even coming out of a pandemic, when so many people were forced to limit their travel and movement, it seems like systems will take a while to return to normal. That includes prices of goods and shipping costs. While the effects of the war in Ukraine are felt globally, the reporter urges leaders to reflect on the past three years. She hopes they will look objectively at how things have changed and what has been effected, and chart a wise course for the territory going forward. Separate from the enforcement of the Commission of Inquiry recommendations, the Beaconite urges government to dive deep into the social and economic issues the territory faces.
A Beaconite has made a broken record of herself in this space for weeks calling for an end to the indoor mask mandate for individuals and businesses. This week, it was lifted, but the Beaconite, much as she would like to move on to other topics, would like to inform government it isn’t done yet. When the territory reopened for tourism in December 2020, businesses were required to install stringent measures to maintain hygiene, including Plexiglas barriers, sinks, sanitiser stations, social distancing signs, directional arrows and other tools. They were also required to be inspected by and receive approval by government agencies in order to achieve the required “Gold Seal” status, and maintain it all scrupulously lest they receive a surprise visit from the Covid-19 Task Force. More than a year later, most of these accoutrements are still there, but the task force is nowhere to be found, leaving businesses in the dark about whether they’re free to remove these pandemic-era remnants if they choose. Customers, meanwhile, are confused about how strictly they’re required to follow such measures, since they’re often enforced piecemeal, if at all, by the businesses themselves. It seems the pages and pages of instructions about installing these things didn’t offer any suggestions about when to remove them. Some guidance from the Ministry of Health and Social Development on this topic would no doubt be welcomed by many.
Time to celebrate
After two years of dramatically downsized August Emancipation Festivals due to Covid-19, a Beaconite is very much looking forward to this year’s celebrations. Now that mask mandates and other pandemic restrictions are being lifted, Festival 2022 should be one to remember, even though the planning seems to be starting somewhat late. He hopes all residents take part, coming together to make the most of the opportunity for a much-needed celebration.