Residents are being urged to exercise the protocol surrounding COVID-19 and not wait until the government makes it mandatory for to wear facemasks and exercise physical distancing between individuals.
The plea came from Hon. Carvin Malone, Minister of Health and Social Development.
"...The Government will shortly be enacting legislation to enforce compliance with various Public Health measures, such as handwashing and sanitisation, physical distancing and limits on the size of gatherings, and the wearing of face masks or coverings in public places. I implore you not to wait until you come under the penalty of the law to do the right thing to protect yourself and others," he said on Friday, July 24.
According to the Health Minister, working together as a community can result in the BVI putting up a strong fight against COVID-19 and continue to safely reopen the borders, reboot the economy, put more people back to work, "put our children back in schools, and flourish as a Territory without taking undue risks with people’s lives," the Minister said.
The Health Minister reminded residents that they are15,897,482 COVID -19 cases reported globally with 641,042 deaths and 85,461 cases reported regionally with 1,592 deaths.
"The mere numbers have overwhelming medical facilities throughout the world. It is reported that the Government of Dominican Republic will introduce a 45 days lockdown to commence shortly. Bahamas has announced a 2 weeks lockdown and the banned on American tourists as reported," he stated.
On July 8, Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Andrew Fahie in a statement said that the Ministry of Health and Social Development instructed the Attorney General to consider all relevant legislation, including the COVID-19 Control and Suppression (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2020 for the purpose of enacting provisions to adhere to the social distancing measures, which include, but are not limited to the wearing of face masks/coverings by all individuals when in an indoor or outdoor public space; and the maintaining of the six feet of physical distance between individuals when in an indoor or outdoor space.
Further, that all businesses must ensure that employees and visitors (customers) wear face masks/coverings and adhere to all social distancing measures approved by the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Also, non-compliance will see persons facing penalties.
Premier Fahie said to this end, an amendment to the Act will see the introduction of a range of penalties for individuals and businesses that violate the above listed measures, which may include the following: individuals facing for first offence - warning; second offence – fine and education/training; each subsequent offence – Fine; and failure to pay a fine will incur a further penalty
What is being considered for businesses is that in the first offence – a warning; second offence – fine, Notice of Closure, subject to re-inspection and education/training; and third offence – revocation of Environmental Health Certificate, closure and a further penalty.
It is not clear when the proposed amendment will be taken before the House of Assembly for debate and passage.