STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR,
MR. AUGUSTUS J.U. JASPERT
ON THE IMPOSITION OF A 24-HOUR CURFEW FOR JOST VAN DYKE
21ST JULY, 2020
Good day to all.
You would have seen the Ministry of Health’s press release this morning on the increased COVID-19 prevention measures that have been put in place for Jost Van Dyke. This is a precautionary and temporary step that was agreed in Cabinet last night in response to an individual from Jost Van Dyke testing positive for COVID-19 on arrival in St Vincent and the Grenadines. I would like to update both the people of Jost Van Dyke and other islands on what this means for us.
As of today, there is a 24-hour curfew on the island of Jost Van Dyke for a period of one week. This means people are confined to their homes and yards between now and 5:01 a.m. on Tuesday 28th July. The island itself is off limits to the rest of the Territory. So no boats, private or commercial, are allowed to travel to or from Jost Van Dyke between now and Tuesday 28th July, unless specifically authorised. As for other islands, there are no changes to the measures we already have in place although we continue to keep things under review.
Cabinet has introduced this curfew as a precaution to protect public health, under the powers available to the Minister of Health. Let me be clear, we do not believe there is a widespread outbreak on Jost Van Dyke or within the Territory. What we know is that one resident from the island tested positive after leaving BVI. The Health Services Authority have already conducted contract tracing and have isolated at risk individuals. But it is only right that we do everything possible to minimise the risk of further transmission. We have seen regional isolations be effective in other parts of the world and believe this cautious approach is the best thing for BVI as public safety is our top priority.
Over the next seven days, the Ministry of Health and BVI Health Services Authority will be conducting further contract tracing and community testing. We hope to test every individual who lives in Jost Van Dyke. This is possible thanks to the test kits, lab equipment and new testing machine supplied by the UK. We expect to receive more test kits shortly so we can expand community testing on other islands, too. We owe huge thanks to the HSA, HEOC and other teams across Government for all their work to keep us safe and I am grateful to the Minister of Health for his leadership on this.
We recognise this curfew has come without notice and individuals living in Jost Van Dyke may not have had a chance to stock up on supplies. Please be assured that you will not be left without. The Government will be providing food and other essential supplies throughout the curfew. Funding has already been set aside by Cabinet to do so. If you live in Jost Van Dyke and need extra support, please follow the local advice, including from your District Officer.
In addition to this, the Government will be increasing security in the waters surrounding Jost Van Dyke. The Joint Taskforce of the Royal Virgin Island Police Force, Customs and Immigration will be on patrol to enforce the new measures and ensure our safety. A team of extra police officers are also being deployed to Jost Van Dyke during this period. It is important that you comply with the rules and do not try to illegally enter or leave Jost Van Dyke.
As before, the health and safety of families across BVI rests in individuals’ hands. The measures we are introducing to protect public health will only work if everyone complies. All of us need to wash our hands regularly, wear a facemask in public and keep a 6 feet distance from others outside our household. If you or anyone in your household has symptoms please isolate immediately and call the medical hotline (852-7650). It is important we all take sensible precautions and follow these rules.
This is a stark reminder that COVID-19 remains a threat. We have made fantastic progress in the past few weeks and it would be all too easy to become complacent. We want this progress to continue so we can re-open and re-boot even more. We must all come together to play our part in beating COVID-19 by following the health advice and the measures in place.
Regardless of the island you live on, we are one community here in BVI. We are interconnected in so many ways and a challenge in one island is a challenge for us all. We must support our friends in JVD during this period and show our strength as a community. I know this is difficult and we are asking for great personal sacrifices, so I’d like to say thank you to the public. Thank you also to the government officials who are working hard to support and protect the public.
God bless every one of you and every island in the British Virgin Islands.