These — in addition to a reimplemented nighttime curfew from 11 pm to 5 am — are among a raft of new directives Health Minister Carvin Malone announced Monday night to help bring the high transmission rate of the virus under control.
The Health Minister also noted that all vaccinated persons arriving in the BVI will now be subjected to a rapid test upon arrival. This takes effect July 12 and will cost travellers $50.
In explaining the process that went into these latest decisions, Malone said the Health Emergency Operations Centre met with members of the government and parliamentary Opposition at the weekend and updated them on the escalating situation.
He said Cabinet then convened an emergency meeting to consider measures to address the upsurge.
According to the Health Minister, visits to Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) are now to be restricted for up to 14 days in the first instance; except for emergency cases.
He advised that residential establishments, including the Adina Donovan Home for the elderly, the Virgin Gorda Elderly Home, Rainbow Children’s Home and Safe Haven Transitional Centre among others, are also expected to restrict visitors for the next 14 days.
Private and public schools, pre-schools, child care centres, summer programmes as well as extra-curricular activities are now mandated to cease all in-person activities with immediate effect.
This will be subject to review after seven days, the health minister said.
Provisions have been made for external and regional examinations to continue at public and private schools with approval from the Health Ministry, Malone stated.
With the exception of getting approval from the Health Ministry, all businesses are also to restrict their capacity to 65 persons at a time. This, however, is subject to all social distancing protocols being in place.
He also said all social gatherings, including weddings, funerals and faith-based gatherings are to be limited to 25 persons at a time, with immediate effect.
All ferries, Malone added, are to be limited to 65 persons at a time; subject to adequate social distancing protocols being maintained for the next 14 days, in the first instance.
Hairdressers, barbers, gyms, bars, clubs and entertainment establishments are also expected to be closed for the next 14 days.
The Health Minister further stated that restaurants offering in-house dining are expected to now only house a maximum of 25 persons at a time OR one person per 36 square feet, inclusive of staff and patrons.
Malone further said Britain will now aid the territory’s vaccine rollout after the governor made an appeal to the UK government for more vaccines. This comes ahead of the impending July 31 expiration date of the BVI’s current stock of vaccines.
He said the government will do everything within its power to secure new vaccines if persons are willing to take the jabs.
Importantly, Malone stated that any new UK donations of vaccines would depend in large part on the number of persons receiving their first jab between now and July 31.