British Virgin Islands

Saturday, Sep 19, 2020

'Majority of people do not want to bear cost of quarantine'- Premier Fahie

As persons continue to voice their opinion on the recent decision by Government to put a hold on work permit and work permit exemption holders returning the Virgin Islands, Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Premier Andrew A. Fahie said a large percent of such persons trapped outside the Territory due to the existing ban was not willing to pay for the two-week quarantine.

The Premier also unveiled a few more reasons why his administration decided to restrict the re-entry of expatriate workers to the Territory during a public statement on Sunday, August 9, 2020.

He said: “We are faced with the reality that the majority of people do not want to bear the cost of quarantine. In addition, the misbehaviour of some individuals who were allowed to return – and not just in the BVI, but in many other countries – where they were refusing to self-isolate once they landed, means that measures became necessary to prevent arriving persons from going around and risking everyone else’s life.”

No reliable rapid tests


Premier Fahie said his government has seen representation by a few persons who are calling for the immediate reopening of the borders, and their argument is to let visitors and persons that are not belongers in with testing and other protocols.

However, this is not as easy as it sounds, he explained.

“Firstly, there are no reliable rapid tests available to date. None! The only reliable tests are the lab tests, which are not instant. A person can go into a lab and not be confirmed as positive for COVID-19 up to the moment of taking the test. And the second they walk out of the lab, they can be exposed to someone who has the virus. So, they will have a certificate saying they have tested negative, but they will be carrying the virus – and some of these persons can land on our doorstep,” he said.

“If you look around the Caribbean region, and other countries, many countries that rushed to reopen their borders or who have been taking in large volumes of returning nationals are presently experiencing second waves and spikes. Some are experiencing significant community spread,” the premier added.

No one wants to pay for tests


Even with that measure, he said paying for the tests is another issue.

“No one wants to bear these costs. In fact, they are saying that the BVI taxpayers must bear these costs. Do you think BV Islanders should bear all of these costs? So one must ask out loud, is this what we want for the BVI? Is this what we want for ourselves and for our loved ones?” he asked.

In the meantime, Premier Fahie said the matter of available jobs for these persons trapped outside must be scrutinised.

“Does the employer have any work for those who they have on work permit and are desirous of them returning at this time? Are the employers willing to pay the cost of quarantining their employees who want to return to the BVI? Or are the employees prepared to bear these costs?” he asked.

Hon Fahie insisted that the Territory’s borders will be open eventually and they are working on the dates and protocols for it to happen; however, the health and safety of the people of the Territory are at the forefront of the decision making.

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