British Virgin Islands

Friday, Oct 23, 2020

Local ferry operators could be prosecuted for offering to go shopping on USVI for BVI residents

Local ferry operators could be prosecuted for offering to go shopping on USVI for BVI residents

Local ferry operators who have been offering residents services that involve them (the operators) accessing goods on land in the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands (USVI) could face possible prosecution.

This is according to Commission of Police Michael Matthews who said in a recent JTV News interview that this action places the BVI at risk to further spread the COVID-19 virus.

He said: “We know that some of the spread of this virus is no doubt connected to the fact that people have been nipping out and going across to the USVI in particular. When you see adverts by our ferry companies, for example, saying ‘hey, we’ll get you Kentucky Fried Chicken whilst we are in St Thomas’, what does that tell you about social responsibility?”

“Why would you be offering to add a service that might risk somebody going on to land and collecting an additional item that really isn’t an essential here? And that’s but one example of numerous ones that we come across,” the top cop said.

Likely to face courts


Commissioner Matthews said offering such services is a clear breach of the laws and rules associated with COVID-19 in the BVI.

“These people are blatant. They put it out on social media with numbers saying call us and we’ll go shopping for you in St Thomas … It is not authorised to do that and, frankly, some of those people are going to find them facing the magistrate as a result of those actions,” Matthews warned.

Social responsibility to report such incidents


The top cop further urged residents and business owners to report any such actions to the RVIPF to assist with investigations.

“Stop just leaving this to the police and to Customs and Immigration to enforce. Don’t you think it’s time we all took social responsibility as business operators [and] as responsible citizens to say, ‘this is not good enough’?”

“And for those people that are breaking the rules, you know who they are. You know who’s doing the runs over to St John and St Thomas with their boats. It’s time to tell the police who they are. Let’s get this stopped,” he added.

The BVI recently being classified as having clusters of COVID-19 cases in the territory has been linked to the smuggling of persons from the USVI, which has a total 1,030 positive cases. Some 215 of that total is currently active.

The BVI has 17 active COVID-19 cases.

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