Visitors who experienced the new protocols rolled out on the day have overwhelmingly been discouraging others from entering the BVI through its seaports. Some have described it as their worst tourist experience ever.
Numerous reports have reached BVI News about a plethora of complaints made on social media by visitors who have endured what they described as nightmarish experiences.
Several travellers complained that although the passenger limit for daily ferries was announced to 50 persons, 120 persons were allowed to board on a single ferry trip on Saturday.
The BVIPA neither confirmed or denied the overcrowding but reminded residents in an elective media release on Sunday that “only one daily round-trip ferry service … with a maximum of 50 passengers per trip is permitted for “this initial period”. That was the only subject discussed in the release.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s overcrowding coupled with apparent technological glitches seemingly resulted in a bottleneck which saw several hours of delay in processing passengers upon their arrival at the ferry terminal.
One traveller, Marius Nel, took to social media and commented: “New protocols official today. Not going great. Came in a 5:10 via ferry. It’s now 9:20 pm. Still not through. [The] holdup is apparently the tracking devices. Brilliant technology it is not. At one point, 120 people crowded together. Great COVID protocols. Poor employees trying their best. They got us pizza and water. Old people, young kids. I’d like to congratulate the genius behind the tech. Still about one to two hours to go. Can’t make this stuff up. Update. At last count, still 40 people to go. [Authorities are] currently doing about four to six people an hour.”
These complaints follow Health Minister Carvin Malone’s statement last Thursday, May 13, saying “it is highly likely that travellers will encounter some processing issues but must be prepared to be patient and understanding. Safety is a major priority.”
Another visitor, Jeremy McGranahan, complained that he and his personal travelling party have been forced to undergo and quarantine period of 10 to 11 days because someone outside of his travelling party tested positive for COVID-19.
McGranahan said his grievance about the mandatory quarantine order was that everyone who was in his group tested negative.
“Like I said, we (seven of us) had tested negative on all our tests, received our email of clearance, went to the police station [and] turned in our stuff and had bracelets cut off, then received a call saying someone (not in our group) tested positive so we had to go back on quarantine for another 10 days,” McGranahan said.
“I REPEAT, DO NOT take a ferry! You’re counting on all those people to test negative; not just your group,” he warned.
BVI News sought a comment from Minister Malone to clarify whether this is indeed the protocol. However, the minister did not respond to our news centre’s call or WhatsApp message up to publication time.
It remains unclear whether steps have been taken to remedy the situation.