STATEMENT BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARKS TRUST
DR. CASSANDER TITLEY-O’NEAL
ON THE NATIONAL PARKS TRUST OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
THURSDAY, 27th AUGUST, 2020
Good day to you the people of these beautiful Virgin Islands.
There has been misinformation circulating about the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands that sends the wrong message. As the Director, I wish to clarify and give some context on the situation.
As a Territory, we have all been in the fight against COVID-19 together from late March to date, and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The Trust and the Board recognises the value of its employees and their invaluable contributions to the operations of the Trust, especially in this time of uncertainty and constant change.
I will give some clarification on the recent stories in the media about the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands. The imposition of Curfew (No.28) Order 2020 that went into effect on Wednesday August 26, there is a list of approved businesses and essential services that are allowed to operate. Moreover, that list is going to be reviewed and revised over the 14 day curfew period in the first instance.
The National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands is a Statutory Body with a Board of Directors that generates its own finances and is heavily dependent on tourism and the marine industry. Unfortunately, both sectors, like many areas of our economy, are and continue to be affected by COVID-19. As such, the Trust like many other entities, will have to find creative ways to adjust moving forward.
As the Trust was not on the approved list to operate during the first 7 days of the curfew and the majority of our employees work outdoors. One of the creative ways in which the Trust suggested to the staff, that would not be able to report physically to our offices or parks was to use their vacation or paid time off to compensate for the fact the Trust could not afford to pay them to stay at home.
In this time of uncertainty, that decision was made by the Trust as a way to keep all the staff employed. The Trust and the Board are, and will continue, to be committed to the people of this Territory as we aim to keep all employees employed for as long as possible, while we try to find new streams of revenue.
In conclusion, I want to assure the public that the Trust and the Board are doing everything in their power to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of its employees and our 22 parks for the people of this country now and for future generations.