The Premier made the announcement last evening, September 21 during the VIP Let’s Talk radio program.
At the time, the Premier was announcing a raft of expedited decisions made by Cabinet to allow vaccinated cruise passengers, among others, to enter and move freely within the territory when the upcoming cruise tourism season resumes in the next few weeks.
“Cabinet also decided that since all cruise passengers and crew are fully vaccinated, they would be exempted from having to apply to enter the territory using the BVI gateway portal,” Premier Fahie said.
He added: “All fully vaccinated travellers entering the Virgin Islands would also be exempted from applying to enter [the territory] using the BVI gateway portal”.
However, there are some provisions attached to this. Firstly, travellers will only be exempt provided that their second COVID-19 vaccine was administered at least two weeks before entry into the territory. Secondly, the vaccine must be a World Health Organisation (WHO) approved vaccine.
Further, upon entry into the territory, each vaccinated traveller must provide the results of a negative COVID-19 PCR test or antigen rapid test that is no older than five days.
They are also required to present valid proof of vaccination.
Importantly, these travellers will also be subjected to an antigen rapid test upon arrival in the territory but will not be subjected to quarantine protocols once this result is determined to be negative.
The Premier further stated that each passenger carrier – whether boat or plane – must verify before embarkation that each vaccinated traveller has the valid proof of vaccination and the requisite results of their negative PCR test or antigen rapid test.
Vaccinated minors – travellers under the age of 18 who are travelling with vaccinated parents or guardians — will also be exempted from the BVI gateway portal while being subjected to similar stringent measures.
The Premier said Cabinet decided that the Premier’s Office should approach the Attorney General (AG) to make recommendations on the appropriate legislation to ensure fines for both carriers and vaccinated travellers who violate the portal exemption entry protocols.
The new fines are expected to see carriers being fined up to $10,000 for each passenger that violates the entry protocols; while passengers found in breach will be fined up to $5,000 or face imprisonment of up to six months.
The Premier also pointed out that partially vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers as well as unaccompanied minors (who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated), or any other persons not covered by the fully vaccinated portal exemption protocols, will still be subject to using the gateway portal to obtain entry to the BVI.
According to the Premier, persons with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are considered fully vaccinated and are therefore not subject to the gateway portal as an entry requirement.