BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival — one of the Territory’s big tourism events is scheduled to take place this month’s end; and because the Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak is still looming the Ministry of Health announced that it will be taking due safety precautions.
The event is scheduled for 30 March – 5 April and Minister for Health and Social Development Hon. Carvin Malone said that screening plans are in place. Hon. Malone in a statement on 10 March announced, “Special arrangements are being worked out well in advance of the upcoming BVI Spring Regatta and similar boating events. Our teams are also examining ways to facilitate this pre-screening process through greater use of information and communications technology (ICT) tools.”
During his appearance on the Honestly Speaking radio programme on 10 March Hon. Malone announced that Government is currently working feverishly to convert an area at the Major Peebles Wing of the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital into an Isolation Center.
As guests continue to enter the Territory’s shores the Minister noted that Travel advisories were issued in respect of China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Italy due to the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in those countries. According to Hon. Malone the restriction is not only external but internal as well, “Cabinet has decided to restrict non-essential duty travel by public officials to areas affected by COVID-19.”
It was noted that the monitoring also includes cruise passengers. “Revised and updated protocols have also been issued to cruise ship companies indicating that clearance will be denied to any ship with a passenger or crew member with recent travel history to an affected area, where that person is exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and does not have a negative test result.”
The efforts to safeguard the BVI ports also include prescreening passengers. In explaining how this will work the Health Minister said, “Agencies working at our Ports-of-Entry have implemented expanded screening measures for all passengers and crew members arriving from international destinations. These include examination of Advanced Passenger Information data, inclusive of travel history. There is also enhanced enforcement of International Health Regulations (IHR) requirements for all arriving vessels, (including ferries, cargo vessels, and private boats and aircraft) to submit health declaration forms and undergo Port Health assessments before passengers are allowed to disembark. “
“Through our strong partnerships with Statutory Bodies such as the Ports Authority and the Tourist Board, we are providing similar advice and support to cruise ship agents, hoteliers and charter companies. All employers in the public and private sectors are encouraged to develop or review plans to ensure they are able to operate with adaptations like telework and flexible sick-leave policies, and are prepared to respond if an employee/s were to report symptoms of illness,” Hon. Malone added.