British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021

No plans to adopt CDC’s ‘no mask’ guideline for fully vaccinated in BVI

No plans to adopt CDC’s ‘no mask’ guideline for fully vaccinated in BVI

As of May 2021, the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued significantly relaxed guidelines to include whereby fully vaccinated persons no longer need to wear masks — whether indoors or outdoors, in most circumstances.

When asked yesterday whether BVI health officials are considering a similar announcement, Premier Andrew Fahie responded, “not right now”.

In addition to the new no-mask guideline, fully vaccinated people can also resume activities without physically distancing, except where required by laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

They can also refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after returning to the US, among other things.

In addition to this, the fully vaccinated can refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or homeless shelter.

BVI making adjustments to WHO’s regulations

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised countries to continue the safety precautions even for vaccinated persons.

Asked to declare the BVI’s position and state whether the government will continue adhering to WHO’s advice, Premier Fahie said the BVI would likely make some adjustments for those who had been vaccinated, even as they maintained compliance with WHO regulations and kept restrictions in place for unvaccinated persons.

“It isn’t that you (the BVI) have done away with them,” Premier Fahie said. “But for vaccinated persons, based on the percentage of risk that you can afford to take, it is high in terms of what you can afford to take versus if someone is not vaccinated. So you would have certain things reduced when you look at it from a scientific perspective for persons such as that. So it’s not that you are eliminating them but you would adjust certain things.”

The Premier further said although WHO advised that simply vaccinating was not enough, other advice they gave seemed contradictory.

“We’re not doing away with the protocols at all,” he then reiterated.

Slow vaccine uptake

Meanwhile, the BVI currently faces a dilemma with frustratingly slow vaccine uptakes and the government’s continued insistence that there will be no attempts at mandatory vaccination for the population.

The Fahie-led administration has continued to pin its hopes on persons demonstrating an increasing interest in the government’s vaccination rollout.

Hopes continue to fade, however, as time quickly runs out with the expiration dates of the current batch of the AstraZeneca vaccines drawing closer.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Health Minister Carvin Malone said he had hoped that all doses of the jab would be used up by end of May.

However, as of this week, the Premier said a further 5,000 first-doses of the jab remain on hand to be taken up before there could be a “comfortable” re-opening of the territory’s economy.

“What we will not do is allow our supply of vaccines to expire awaiting the decisions of some of the public. In this regard, a decision will have to be made whether or not the volume of vaccines that is at risk of being expired would have to be returned to the United Kingdom and/or Dominica,” the Premier had expressed.

Frustration at lack of protocols for expected cruise liners

In the meantime, the first passenger cruise liner in well over a year, the Celebrity Millennium, is expected to visit the BVI’s shores within the next two weeks.

With some critics expressing mounting concern at the sluggish rollout of protocols for engagement with tourists being formulated at such a late stage, it remains unclear what steps can be taken to mitigate the expected reduction in revenue likely to be received due to the limited exposure of tourists to local businesses.

The territory’s COVID-19 epidemiological summary as at May 26, 2021.


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