A Beaconite wonders if Virgin Islands officials are aware that the United Kingdom and all 50 states in the United States have now announced plans to drop indoor mask mandates and most other Covid-related restrictions, including in schools? Do they also know the USVI dropped mask mandates for all outdoor venues? Many experts, including those at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, agree that SARS-Cov-2 is on its way to becoming an endemic virus that the world will continue to face seasonally. Given the above, the Beaconite believes the VI public deserves to know when the government here plans to drop restrictions. After all, new and effective treatments exist that did not at the beginning of the pandemic. Is government ensuring VI residents have access to them? The vaccine they are urging residents to take is meant to prevent serious illness and death, and every adult in the VI has had access to it for almost a year. However, the Beaconite wonders if overemphasis on masks may have led some people to turn down the vaccine thinking their mask was enough protection, and may have even encouraged sick people to go out in the community thinking a mask alone would prevent the spread. Do leaders understand that if they drop mask mandates, individuals and businesses could still choose to wear and require masks? Finally, is this mandate something that is still in government’s best interest to spend time, money and manpower enforcing when all of those things are in short supply? In the Beaconite’s opinion, it’s past time to consider such questions.
A Beaconite is happy to have visitors from the United States and the opportunity to take them around the Virgin Islands. She crossed off a trip to Saba Rock from her bucket list as she took her aunt and uncle to the resort for lunch. On Virgin Gorda, she was able to snap some photos at the newly constructed sign near Hog Heaven. She was also able to take photos at the new sign on Anegada. She thinks the signs are a cool way for tourists to remember the different islands they’ve visited. Her aunt and uncle have been amazed by the natural beauty of the VI and have enjoyed meeting friendly residents. The reporter is eager to show one of her closest friends what the territory has to offer when he comes to visit next month.
Family members who visited a Beaconite last month had some unfortunate experiences in the air. On the way to the Virgin Islands, their flight was cancelled with no notice. On the way back, they dealt with conflicting information. They had confirmed with the Puerto Rico health department that they didn’t need to fill out the travel portal for a layover as long as they had proof of their connecting flight and a doctor’s note confirming that one passenger had contracted and fully recovered from Covid-19 within 90 days (which Puerto Rico accepts in lieu of a rapid antigen test). However, they were told otherwise at the Beef Island airport and scrambled to meet the new criteria before their flight departed. This Beaconite knows that coordinating internationally with ever-changing travel requirements is challenging, but clear communication with visitors is key to building back a successful tourism industry. The trip into and out of the territory is visitors’ first and last impression, and it should be a good one.
Around this time last year, a Beaconite went to the scene of the most brazen crime he has ever covered. A man was shot and killed in the middle of the afternoon in Fish Bay. The perpetrator escaped, and no arrests have been announced. A few hours after the shooting, the Beaconite spoke to a woman who lived nearby who said she was worried about her children’s safety and complained that criminals were not being held accountable for the rising crime at the time. While it is saddening to see that the territory continues to be plagued by occasional violence, the Beaconite is happy that police appear to be making headway on other high-profile cases. Most recently, police announced that they arrested three people in connection with a shooting in Little Apple Bay in January, which was the first alleged murder of the year. Earlier that month, they issued a warrant for a person allegedly associated with a December murder. And in September, police announced murder charges for five inmates in relation to a fatal stabbing at the prison about four months earlier. If there is any chance of deterring violent crime in the territory, criminals must know that they will face consequences if they choose violence, and the Beaconite applauds the police officers, prosecutors and court officials working to enforce these consequences.