Chief Environmental Health Officer Mr. Lionel Michael announced via a statement issued yesterday, May 12, that travelers must now apply within a five to seven-day timeframe.
“Please note that the Environmental Health Division is unable to approve persons for home quarantine when they are at the port in St. Thomas waiting to board the ferry or at the airline gates waiting to travel to the BVI. It is observed that persons are increasingly waiting until the last minute to apply for home quarantine, and this presents a risk to the BVI community for the transmission of COVID-19,” Mr. Michael said.
He added, “In these situations, we are unable to assess the suitability of the property for home quarantine because not enough time is given. Home quarantine in safe spaces is pivotal to the prevention of COVID-19 cases in the BVI. Consequently, all persons requesting home quarantine must apply within 5-7 days of travel in order for to be approved.”
In an interview with BVI Platinum News, Mr. Michael said, he wanted to underscore the importance of home quarantine and persons following proper quarantine protocols when they travel.
“When a person decides to travel, the first thing they have to think about is when they return where are they going to be quarantined and as such, they have to make sure that they are property, their homes inspected even prior to travel. So that they have their home quarantine approval out of the way, so when they are coming back now, all they have to do is go on the portal, register and apply for entry into the BVI, and their homes would have already been pre-approved for when they come back.”
He said if the space is not pre-approved, they can apply in advance and give the Environmental Health Division ample time, which is five to seven days to assess their quarantine facility, wherever they want to quarantine.
He explained, “Because we have to get the form, assess the form, ensure that the government checklist is completed properly if it is not completed properly we have to send it back to them for them to redo it and resend it; so we need sufficient time to do that.”
He said the form must then be re-assessed, and a decision would have to be made on whether or not officers would inspect the premises. If the property is going to be inspected, it would entail finding the property and the actual inspection, where officers would look out for general sanitation, the presence of running water and electricity, waste disposal and other amenities.
“We have to make sure that while they in quarantine, they will feel comfortable, and they wouldn’t have any need to leave quarantine and go and get food supplies and medication.”
He added, “What we are seeing now is people are waiting till the last minute, meaning when they are on the dock in St. Thomas waiting for the ferry or sometimes in Puerto Rico to catch the flight, they remember home quarantine. I want to underscore that a lot of people have been applying before, not everybody are the same, and we want to applaud those people for making the application early, others are not, and consequently, it puts the Environmental Health Division in an untenable situation.”
He informed that some of the challenges include not having access to the property, the contact person on the ground to facilitate the inspection being unreachable, or that there are others residing in the home.
“It’s not a lot of persons [being tardy with their applications], but we are seeing an increase in it; more and more requests are coming in at the last moment,” he stated.