Speaking at the ‘Tourism Update’ press conference last Friday, October 8, Junior Tourism Minister Sharie deCastro said “operators are required to agree to bi-weekly testing as well as other requirements stipulated by the Tourist’s Board.
Adhering to these requirements would “deem them to be cruise certified”, deCastro aded.
The government will cover the cost of bi-weekly PCR testing for taxi and livery operators for the first months of the cruise ship season.
The Junior Tourism Minister also said the Tourism Board will work in conjunction with the Taxi & Livery Commission and the Environmental Health Board to host a series of sanitisation and disinfectant training which public transport operators must take part in.
This training will be classified as cruise certification for public transport operators.
DeCastro said parents have expressed concerns in regards to taxi operators and the transportation of visitors throughout the territory. She said the parents are worried about their children contracting the coronavirus from taking public transport as operators are likely to provide services to both local and tourist passengers. However, the junior minister noted that the operators have to go through an intricate and extensive sanitisation process before they are able to resume operation after any trip.
“After providing cruise passenger transport, public transportation operators are expected to check out by stopping at a sanitisation and disinfectant station managed by the Taxi & Livery Commission and the Environmental Health Board,” deCastro said.
“After the sanitisation and disinfectant requirements, the vehicles will be inspected and relevant information logged, public transport operators will be officially discharged,” she added.
Managing Director of the Taxi & Livery Commission, Jevaughn Parsons said, to his knowledge, members of his association have not expressed any dissatisfaction regarding the protocols implemented by the government. He said they are eager to transport tourists as operations have dwindled since the pandemic started.
Meanwhile, Premier Fahie said cruise visitors to the territory will have to follow COVID protocols. This means every passenger over the age of 12 will have to be vaccinated and those eleven and under will have to do a PCR test.
He noted some cruise ships will have a bubble to operate in and some will not have one. He did not disclose the exact location of the bubbles.
However, he said the Disney Cruise Line which is supposed to arrive on November 17 will not operate in a bubble. This is because the BVI is the first stop for cruise ships on that line and passengers would have done two PCR tests on board to confirm their negative COVID status.