The waters of the Virgin Islands grow clearer with each passing day as ocean beds have been undisturbed by swimmers and boats. A Beaconite was happy to learn that H. Lavity Stoutt Community College has been taking advantage of the respite by conducting water quality tests in strategic locations throughout the territory. This exercise is designed to provide a baseline understanding of the waters that make up most of the VI’s landscape. The Beaconite is excited to see the results of these efforts, especially considering a roommate lent her a copy of an open water diver manual to study during curfew. Here’s to the hope she will be able to put that knowledge to use in the near future.
Last week restaurant owners got the shaft for the second time since the Covid-19 curfew began when the government did an about-face, first telling some restaurants they would be allowed to open with the modified curfew order and then making a blanket announcement closing them all until Monday of this week. Some restaurants said they had already bought thousands of dollars’ worth of fresh meats and produce that couldn’t be re-frozen and was suddenly at risk of going to waste. Whether this was a deliberate act or merely a miscommunication, it was a potentially expensive one, and especially heartbreaking considering many people in the territory are struggling with food insecurity.
With the soft lifting of the round-the-clock curfew, money is flowing more freely in the territory. Rent and other bills have been paid, and a Beaconite is sure that people are eager to get back on their feet. She’s heartened to see the mercy of some landlords who have declared up to four months of free rent for tenants, but disappointed to see a hardened hand from others. What will happen to people who lost their job and can’t pay rent? Will they be kicked to the streets? Forced to leave the territory? The reality for many is just that: finding a way to return to safety as the storm passes. Some people are searching for boats and flights back home. The unemployed are looking for jobs that have not come back yet. On the other hand, many are still comfortable: ordering food they’ve missed from their favourite restaurants and catching up with friends and family that they haven’t seen for weeks. The reporter knows people in all different kinds of situations. There are vast differences in the realities that they each face, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. She hopes no one is left behind during this crisis, and encourages those who need help to reach out and ask.
Over the course of the past week, a Beaconite was pleased to find that life seemed to be slowly returning to something close to normalcy. Last week, when he ventured outside for the first time after the lockdown ended, he felt an undercurrent of anxiety as the main business district of Road Town became choked with people wearing masks and some who were frustrated by the confusing new protocols they were expected to follow. Later in the week, however, when he went to town to do some shopping and banking, he was pleased to see that the crowds had started to thin. He delighted by certain quotidian moments that a month ago he would not have registered. Even if people wore masks and couldn’t make physical contact, it was refreshing to see friends exchange a wave and a laugh as they passed each other. The sound of traffic on Waterfront Drive, a short walk away from the Beaconite’s apartment, is a welcome change from the silence of the previous three weeks. He realises that it will take time for life to truly revert to normal, and he is in favour of taking all the necessary precautions even if they do postpone the return of regular life. But for now, he is grateful for small freedoms.