As a precautionary measure of border security the Cabinet of the British Virgin Islands announced on 14 February an order to suspend the visa free initiative that was in place for nationals of the People’s Republic of China.
It was explained that the decision was made in response to concerns about the corona virus (COVID-19) and the fact that China was the epicenter. While stressing this concern about the ongoing Chinese epidemic the Cabinet said: “Whereas as a result of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus in the People’s Republic of China Cabinet has decided to suspend the said Order in relation to nationals of the People’s Republic of China visiting the Virgin Islands from the People’s Republic of China.”
According to the Cabinet Office the suspension of the visa exemption for Chinese nationals will be in effect for such time as the Minister responsible for the subject of Immigration may determine by notice in writing that the suspension shall cease to have effect.
The visa policy for Chinese citizens was implement on 5 July 2018, when the Cabinet in exercise of the powers conferred by section 37(4) of the Act, exempted from the requirement of a visa under section 37(1), a national of the People’s Republic of China who will enter and remain in the Virgin Islands for a period of six months or less for the purpose of business or tourism.
Back in 2018 the then government announced a visa free policy for Chinese nationals wishing to visit the Territory. This move was aimed at shoring up the Territory’s tourism sector by attracting Chinese tourists to the BVI.
At the time of the announcement (21 June, 2018) then Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith stated that the idea was a good one since Chinese citizens are known to be big travelers: