Starting Oct. 1, fully vaccinated travellers entering the territory will no longer have to register online through the BVI Gateway portal, Premier Andrew Fahie announced Tuesday night on Virgin Islands Party Radio.
Instead, they will need to present a negative Covid-19 test and proof of vaccination, and to test for a fee upon arrival, the premier said of a Cabinet decision made Tuesday.
If requirements are breached, he warned, passengers can individually be fined up to $5,000 and carriers can be fined up to $10,000 per passenger.
Other restrictions have been relaxed in recent days as well.
The nightly curfew now starts at 1 a.m. instead of 11 p.m., for instance, and nightclubs and entertainment venues are allowed to reopen if all staff and patrons are fully vaccinated, according to a new curfew order in effect through Oct. 1.
Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone said that training sessions will be conducted with business owners and that arrangements are being made to ensure staff and patrons of such venues are fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, 47 active Covid- 19 cases remained in the territory as of Monday, Mr. Malone announced that evening.
“The most troubling aspect is that 35 out of the 47 cases were found within the community,” he said. “Clearly, we are not out of the woods. It is these new cases that are of concern to these public health officials.”
Cases are being reported in schools, government departments, and health care agencies, according to the minister.
“The reality is that we are in an era of Covid, and we must balance lives and livelihoods,” he said.
He added that vaccinations are the best way to reduce the number of potential serious cases and hospitalisations.
Meanwhile, ports across the territory are open and cruise ships are scheduled to dock here starting Oct. 7.
Mr. Malone said the community cannot afford to return to lockdowns, and he urged people to stay safe and get vaccinated. He also announced that the Road Town clinic is closed until further notice, though he didn’t say why.
As of Monday, 42.9 percent of the population was fully vaccinated — still a far cry from the territory’s goal to vaccinate 75 percent, Mr. Malone said. A total of 2,629 others are partially vaccinated.
Government aims to purchase freezers that will be able to store the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the minister added, noting that the United Kingdom has agreed to supply both vaccines for all eligible people, including children aged 12 to 17.
Last month, the government launched a programme allowing interested youth to get the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the United States Virgin Islands.
Two hundred and thirty-four people took advantage of the offer: Of those, 65 were adults and 169 were children, according to government.
“We are working closely with the agency in the United States Virgin Islands to continue this programme until our facilities are completed here,” Mr. Malone said. “With this assurance, our goal of reaching 22,500 people fully vaccinated is now attainable and must be pursued.”
He also announced recent Cabinet decisions, including a plan to require people who are being arrested or detained by police to undergo rapid testing.
If they are charged, they will be tested prior to being transported to the prison, he said.
Mr. Malone also said a new curfew order is now in place through Oct. 1 between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The previous curfew order, which took effect on July 13, was from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.