Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone (AL) said Cabinet, during a recent meeting, made a number of amendments to the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression Measures) Order to facilitate the process and incentivise persons who wish to participate in the USVI-BVI Bubble Initiative.
“These decisions are as follows: Persons going to and from the USVI, specifically to receive vaccinations, or to accompany minors for that purpose, under the agreed protocols with the USVI authorities would be exempt from the applicable quarantine requirement for the partially vaccinated persons,” he said during the August 6, 2021 update on the COVID-19 situation in the VI.
“Persons going to and from the USVI, specifically to receive vaccinations, or to accompany minors for that purpose, under the agreed protocols with the USVI authorities would be exempt from the requirement to register on the entry portal and from payment of the associated fees; [and] persons going to and from the USVI, specifically to receive vaccinations, or to accompany minors for that purpose, under the agreed protocols with the USVI authorities would be exempt from payment of the relevant fees on exit of the Territory.”
Hon Malone said these recent decisions is his government working with the people.
“So you see, ladies and gentlemen, we are pulling out all the stops to facilitate the protection of our people from COVID-19. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity and the local opportunities which are still available to get vaccinated,” he stated.
He said persons who are interested in participating in the USVI-BVI Vaccination Bubble initiative should note that: “12–17-year-olds will be given priority, individuals under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian accompany them. If the parents or legal guardian is not travelling with the child, a notarised letter by the parent allowing the person to accompany the child must be presented.”
He stated that an official birth certificate must be presented at the time of vaccination to the USVI Department of Health for each child, persons must have a valid passport and ordinarily meet immigration requirements to enter the US Virgin Islands, and persons must be able to fund all costs associated with getting the vaccine including transportation and logistical costs.
“Those of you who are able to meet these requirements can move on to the other stage of the registration process. Persons can complete the Vaccination Bubble Registration Form and submit it along with the listed documents via email to the email@example.com,” he said.
Interested persons can also register by calling 852- 7525 Monday-Friday between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.
In the meantime, Hon Malone urged persons wishing to take their vaccines in the US territory to be honest.
“During that call, you will be asked a series of questions, and the information will be validated for eligibility purposes. Please ensure that information provided is truthful and accurate. We want to know your contact information, immigration status, vaccination preference, vaccination history if any, your reason for participating, your medical history, and if you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, among other information,” he remarked.
“Participants will have to sign their application and a declaration exempting the Government of the Virgin Islands from any and all liabilities associated with the vaccination,” he added.
The Minister said successful applicants would then be added to the list, and they would be given a date and time to check in at the West End Ferry Dock.
“Persons will have to check-in at least one hour and a half before the departure time of the ferry to allow for rapid antigen testing. The BVI Health Services Authority has also lowered the cost of the rapid test to $30 to facilitate this process. All registered persons with a negative test will then be allowed to board the vessel. The boat will depart West End bound for Cruz Bay, St John,” he stated.
The Health Minister also urged persons who are interested in this initiative to come forward because “this initiative has a timestamp and a small window of opportunity. So interested persons will have to show their interest very early to be accommodated.”