Hon Penn made the calls during the July 28, 2021, edition of JTV’s the Big Story hosted by Cathy O. Richards and available on Facebook.
According to the Opposition Leader, “I sympathise with the tourism industry in particular because they have been the ones who have been hit the hardest due to COVID-19 in terms of their industry and their livelihood and their way of life,” he said.
Hon Penn said he understands that while some business considerations had to be made due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the VI and the following of health protocols, ways can be devised for businesses to operate in a safe environment.
“But we also have to look at ways where we could continue to stay safe, keep our businesses safe or citizens safe and operate in a way, a safer way where our livelihood can continue.”
According to the Opposition Leader, the way forward is working on different tangents to find a balance with businesses operating and staying safe.
He said for example on the sister islands, tourists continue to flock to the islands however, they have nothing much to do.
“I am in no way asking to be irresponsible in the way that we protect ourselves and our lives from COVID-19 but we have to also understand that we have to find a way to live with COVID-19 and it means for us we coming up with safe and creative procedures so for people to continue their livelihoods.”
Hon Penn called on businesses to respect the protocols and not just agree for the sake of their business to be allowed to operate only to break the rules again.
“My heart bleeds for the sister islands… from last year when we have been talking about this issue, I continue to say that we have to find a way to get some support to the sister islands more than ever because they in particular are the ones who are hurting because of their dependence on tourism,” he said while calling for tourism in general across the VI to be allowed to operate safely.
Currently, restaurants are only allowed to offer takeout services and bars have been ordered closed. Further, there is a 7:00pm to 5:00am curfew in the territory.
Restaurants in the Virgin Islands have been restricted to takeout service only.
According to the Opposition Leader, the
way forward is working on different tangents to find a balance with
businesses operating and staying safe.