Since Friday, March 27, 2020, the Virgin Islands (VI) has been under a complete lockdown as a result of preventative measures taken against COVID-19 and now, according to Commissioner of Police, Mr Michael B. Matthews, when the new 14-day lockdown takes effect on Saturday, April 4, 2020, he expects everyone to comply.
"The Curfew Act makes it very clear that when a curfew is required, it is the Governor of the Territory that places that curfew, so obviously he has been seeking advice from the Premier and from Cabinet, he doesn't do these things in isolation," Mr Matthews said on the Wednesday, April 1, 2020, edition of 'Honestly Speaking'.
With the Virgin Islands (VI) having three positive cases of COVID-19 to date, the Commissioner says enforcement is in the hands of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) with the powers from H.E. Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert to make sure that people abide by the curfew.
"The Act actually stipulates that it is the Governor who actually oversees the placing of the curfew and then he has delegated the enforcement of the curfew to myself as Commissioner of Police," he said.
Extraordinary Measures being taken
While the Commissioner did note that the original curfew and its extension are extraordinary measures, which may almost seem draconian in nature, he said the Territory has seen curfews in the past- specifically after the hurricanes of 2017- and people are accepting the need for it now as they did in the past.
"People are now accepting again because we are now seeing an unknown enemy. We can't see this enemy that's coming at us but all of the advice from the World Health Organisation, all of the advice from our own Ministry of Health is telling us that there is a distinct risk to the people of this Territory and the only way to control it is to try and contain any transference of the virus," he said.
With all three COVID-19 cases imported and with no evidence of community transference yet, CoP Matthews said the actions of Cabinet through the Governor is clearly around saving lives and protecting those in the community.
Officers not immune to risks - CoP Matthews
"I need everybody's cooperation with this, my officers are going to be out there, there are going to enforce the curfew but obviously they are not immune to the risks either, so they don't want to be in situations where they are having to make arrests or get into confrontational situations with the people," he said while asking for compliance and adherence to curfew terms.
He called for full compliance and for people to adhere to all the terms of the extended curfew while noting that simple things like going for a swim in the sea is a breach of the laws.
"The lockdown is very clear that it is in your home or the confines of your home... and by doing that, by locking people down... we got a good chance of keeping this virus out of the Territory, in a way that it doesn't spread."
14-day lockdown starts Saturday
The VI will go into another full 14-day lockdown from Saturday evening, April 4, 2020, until April 16, 2020; however, people are being allowed 3 days head start to stock up with good and other essentials.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the time is 6:00am to 6:00 pm, however, supermarkets only can open up to 9:00pm.
6:00am to 8:00am is reserved for essential workers and persons shopping for the elderly and vulnerable persons who are not allowed out.
The latest stats from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on global infections rates as of April 2, 2020, is 932,166 confirmed cases, 46,764 confirmed deaths and 205 countries, areas or territories with infections.