Facing mounting criticisms for the decision to shutout work permit and permit-exempt holders, the Premier in an address on the economic plans during COVID-19 last evening, August 9, raised several questions.
"These are the questions we have to ask ourselves continually. 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.
The Premier stated that at the same time, the same debate is going on over the proposals for persons to be tested.
"No one wants to bear these costs. In fact, they are saying that the BVI taxpayers must bear these costs. Do you think BVIslanders should bear all of these costs?" the Premier asked.
On Friday, the Premier linked the shutout to the need to find jobs for persons who are already on the island.
Last evening, the Premier stated that it will take unconventional measures to accomplish 'our mission in regards to our economy and our safety in this new regular'.
He indicated that the Territory cannot take unnecessary risks that can trigger another complete lockdown.
"An internal assessment has shown that if we end up in another Territory-wide lockdown, the money that we have for rebooting the economy will have to be used instead for social support. And when that is over, we will not have any money left to reboot the economy. So, we are walking a very fine line. It is a tight-rope. It might not seem so at the moment because we are able to move around and to conduct some of our business activities," the Premier outlined.
He added, "I cannot emphasise enough that for your Government, our highest priority is the safety and health of each Virgin Islander and resident. That is why your Government cannot afford to take unnecessary risks that can lead to our loved ones getting sick, or worse dying. We cannot take unnecessary risks that can cause our medical facilities to become overburdened," the Premier stated
He said Government has seen representation by a few persons who are calling for the immediate reopening of the borders. According to the Premier, they are saying we can let visitors and persons that are not belongers in with testing and other protocols.
The Premier stated that there are no reliable rapid tests available to date.
"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 around the Caribbean region and other 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, the Premier said, are experiencing significant community spread.
"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?" the Premier asked.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.