Penn announced the changes made by Cabinet in a live broadcast earlier Monday afternoon.
“Even as this mask mandate is being lifted, any private establishment or service provider may institute its own policy on mask-wearing. The same will apply to the public sector and the Deputy Governor will develop a policy in the areas where mask-wearing will still be required, such as in agencies providing health and social care, border protection services, and other front-facing departments where the risk of exposure is higher,” the Health Minister said.
However, Penn said everyone is strongly encouraged to continue wearing well-fitted masks or face coverings if the person is COVID-19 positive; if they have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person; or in a mass gathering or communal transportation.
The Health Minister said the mask mandate is just one of the many changes the Cabinet has made to the territory’s COVID-19 protocols.
Visitors entering the BVI will no longer be required to register for clearance on the BVI Gateway Travel Portal and will not be required to show proof of travel insurance beginning June 15.
“Day-trippers – meaning travellers who had been away from the territory for less than 24 hours, or persons remaining in the territory for less than 24 hours – will no longer need to present a COVID-19 test result upon arrival,” Penn announced.
All other travellers over the age of five, regardless of vaccination status, must present a negative antigen or rt-PCR test taken within 48 hours before entry. Alternatively, a person may present a document issued by a licensed medical professional certifying COVID-19 recovery within 90 days prior to arrival, in place of a negative test.
If unable to present a test result or a recovery certificate, the person will be tested upon arrival in the territory.
“Cabinet also stood down the Health Emergency Operations Centre, while noting that the Acting Chief Medical Officer will maintain overall responsibility for COVID-19 monitoring, planning, and reporting. We owe a collective debt of gratitude to the hardworking members of the HEOC team, including our recently retired CMO, Dr Irad Potter, and the many professionals working behind the scenes,” Minister Penn said.
“As we move from emergency mode to more sustainable management of COVID-19, and enjoy fewer restrictions on daily life, we must remain vigilant and prepared. New variants can emerge and spread fast, and it may become necessary to reinstate certain measures that have been relaxed – the pandemic is not yet over. It is important for people to make informed choices about how to protect themselves, and I encourage everyone to take special care to safeguard seniors, chronically ill, and other vulnerable persons,” the Health Minister added.