Shut out of HOA
While covering the Speech from the Throne last week, a Beaconite was politely but firmly asked to leave the House of Assembly session before it even started. This was the first time the reporter had attempted to attend HOA in person since it moved to the Save the Seed Energy Centre, instead of watching the broadcast remotely. But last week was different, as it marked the start to a new legislative agenda. It’s clear that avoiding any unnecessary risk of attending large events in person is key to impeding the spread of Covid-19. However, sometimes attending such events is necessary, and the Beaconite noted that a handful of other non-media residents were allowed inside. The fact remains that governments need to continue to function, and journalists need adequate access to do their jobs providing coverage of that work to the community despite the pandemic. Having access to events in the House when the occasion calls for it is imperative, especially when longstanding internet problems mean community members could be left in the dark on debate that directly affects their lives. The Beaconite is fully prepared to comply with any social distancing practices needed to keep everyone safe. But she also believes finding a way to provide public access is necessary to the preservation of good governance, especially as no one knows how long the pandemic could last.
In recent weeks, the Virgin Islands government has taken lots of criticism for its slow and cautious reopening strategy. But from many places abroad that are struggling with Covid-19 outbreaks, the system here doesn’t look so bad. Under the “Halos and Pitchforks” section in a recent edition of the St. Thomas-based VI Daily News, this territory was hailed for “setting strong regulations and strict protocols for arriving passengers to follow when the border opens Dec. 1.” The newspaper continued, “From the very beginning, the BVI leadership has recognised and acted upon the need to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, with good results compared with many other jurisdictions.” The United States VI, which has about three times the population of this territory, has seen 23 deaths and nearly 1,400 confirmed cases of the virus, while this territory has seen one death and 72 cases. The USVI’s borders have been much more relaxed than the VI’s in recent months, and they are currently open to tourists.
Nature’s Little Secrets
Though nobody could see because he was wearing a facemask, a Beaconite’s jaw dropped on Tuesday when he learned that police had recently seized more than two tonnes of cocaine from a residence in Balsam Ghut. He was further shocked to learn that a policeman was arrested in connection to the bust. It is hard to imagine that in such a small territory, where everyone is so friendly and secrets spread so easily, such a massive operation could be hidden, at least temporarily, from public view. After reporting the story, the Beaconite does not feel any less safe, and he still views the warmth of VI residents as one of the place’s great charms. However, he can’t help but be a little suspicious about what other nefarious activities could be quietly taking place in such a tight-knit community. As a resident, this thought makes him uneasy. As a journalist, it makes him want to try and find out.
How many people know that a group of giraffes is called a tower, and that a Methuselah holds eight standard bottles of wine? Those who do should consider coming to Bamboushay Lounge at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, as a Beaconite and her rotating cast of teammates do each week. There, they enjoy eating, drinking, challenging their knowledge, and raising money for the BVI Humane Society, which continues to desperately seek donations in order to build its new animal shelter. Due to weather, the state of the economy, or other reasons, turnout has been slim for the past few weeks. However, the Beaconite feels the event is a great excuse to get out of the house on a weeknight and forget about the sometimes-grim landscape of current events. As the reigning champion for four weeks, she invites any and all new challengers, but warns them to expect stiff competition.