While confirming that from 2 June the Territory’s borders will reopen to allow BV Islanders and Belongers trapped overseas to return to the Territory, Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie stated that persons returning will be required to submit themselves to quarantine for a period ranging from 14 to 21 days, but if they do not comply they may face jail time.
During a press conference on 12 May Premier Fahie explained to reporters that the logistics for the return is being worked out. Among the considerations noted was whether the government would be arranging for hotel rooms to serve as official quarantine areas and how many.
Unfortunately, Hon. Fahie stated that it was too soon to say all that would be required for the returnees. “We can’t answer that as yet when the protocols are put in place on how we are going to deal with the nationals returning home; then we would start to see what is needed in terms of the difficulties they may have,” the Premier explained.
Hon. Fahie explained that the government is very cautious about the balance of safety that would be required for the return as it relates to the reintegrating of those returning into the community. “One of the things I want to make very clear, we are not going to compromise the safety of those who have been here and those who are going to be coming in. It is a tight rope walk but we are not going to compromise it. The people who have been here in the Virgin Islands during this time have been more than cooperative, so we cannot have persons been here being asked to do so many things… and they have complied with all …We cannot now allow a lawless reentry of our people into the Territory after asking those of our people who are here to comply and they complied gracefully.”
“We must not lose sight that we are fighting an invisible enemy and with that in mind we must make sure that whatever protocol needs to be put in place that we ourselves can test them to ensure as much as is humanly possible to see that is what we are doing right now…We are shooting and aiming…for 2 June as the time to start with a seven-day window,” the Premier further explained.
Hon. Fahie opined that by the end of this week Government would have a better pulse of the logistics to make the return operate in a safe and orderly manner. The Premier also promised to announce the plan to the Territory in the coming days. This plan he noted would explain what anyone coming in would have to do and what would be required.
While noting that the legislation was amended to enable authorities to take action against those who do not wish to comply with the orders for quarantine. “What I can tell anyone coming to the BVI, our people is that you have to be quarantined. One of the areas I want to stress is mandatory quarantine. I don’t want anyone coming back home telling us –‘I home deman, me ain’t got to go in no quarantine or me from here and you ain’t gon quarantine me.’ These are serious things – in the minority, but our people say it. Now they could go jail – straight jail once you come fighting us and you don’t want to be quarantined. We don’t want you in jail we want you to understand the seriousness of this. You are respecting where you were, make sure when you come home you respect it also. While I must say that the majority of our people are orderly but for the few who feel that they can come to test us I am warning them,” Hon. Fahie added.