Statement

Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration
Release Date:
Wednesday, 27 May 2020 - 3:25pm

MESSAGE FROM MINISTER OF NATURAL RESOURCES, LABOUR AND IMMIGRATION
HONOURABLE VINCENT O. WHEATLEY

ON THE REOPENING OF BEACHES DURING COVID-19
AND THE BEACH USE POLICY

26 MAY, 2020

Good day everyone.

As we continue to move forward in this ‘New Regular’ living and working with COVID-19, I wish to remind the public that beaches in the Territory are now opened from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie would have announced this amended Cabinet decision during a press conference on May 21. You would remember that beaches were first reopened on May 10, 2020 from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. following the Territory’s 14-day, 24-hour curfew. The new amended opening hours can be found in the Imposition of a Curfew (No. 18) Order 2020 Section 8(1).

As a Government, we know that the beaches of the Virgin Islands are areas of traditional, cultural, social, and economic and ecological importance to the Virgin Islands and to you the people. We know that people love utilising them for enjoyment, therapy and recreation.  

As a reminder, the following beaches are opened and will continue to be actively monitored by Beach Wardens:

  1. Long Bay, Beef Island
  2. White Bay, Jost Van Dyke
  3. Brewer’s Bay, Tortola
  4. Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
  5. Josiah’s Bay, Tortola
  6. Smuggler’s Cove, Tortola
  7. Savannah Bay, Virgin Gorda
  8. St. Thomas Bay, Virgin Gorda

The Baths and Devil’s Bay both remain closed until further notice.

Since the beaches have been reopened on May 10, 2020, we have been actively and closely monitoring all of them to ensure that persons are adhering to the safe distancing protocols and mass gathering restrictions.

I would like to thank all the members of the Beach Monitoring Task Force for ensuring that the protocols are being followed on our beaches.

After assessing the public use of the beaches, I wish to update the public of the following as we all work together to keep everyone safe as we are not out of the woods with COVID-19.

  1. Persons attending the beach should comply with the instructions given by Beach Wardens.
  1. The Beach Wardens will operate from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  1. No one should be on the beach before 6:00 a.m. and after 3:00 p.m.
  1. There will be no late day use of the beach as it constitutes a breach of the Curfew Order determining the open hours for beaches.
  1. To practice social distancing on the beach, there should be no more than six persons in a group. All persons must belong to the same household.
  1. Everyone must at all times be six feet apart. 
  1. Recreational activities that are permissible during this period include:
    1. swimming
    2. walking, jogging, running
    3. sunbathing
    4. sitting in chairs in groups of no more than 5 practicing social distancing
    5. surfing
    6. non-motorised sports where one or two users can participate at a time
  1. Please be advised that dogs are allowed and can be walked on beaches, but ONLY on a leash between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. I wish to remind persons of the Dogs (Prevention of Injury to Persons, Livestock and Poultry) Act, 2001. Dog owners should keep dogs that are outside of their premises leashed at all times. Dog owners are also reminded to register all pet dogs over the age of three months with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Dog registration is a legal requirement for their owners under the Act. For more information on the registration of dogs contact the department at 468-6123 or 468-6124. Any dogs or animals not restrained will be removed from the beach. 
  1. Persons are asked to ensure that any animal waste from their pets is immediately removed with a napkin or bag and discarded properly in a trash bin. It is important to note that bacteria in your animal’s stool can transmit serious diseases to other animals and humans. Salmonella, E-Coli and Campylobacter are just a few bacteria transmitted through dog faeces and cats.
  1. While on the beach, persons attending the beach are also asked to remove any items and waste that they may have brought or generated during their use.  Let us ensure environmental management, maintenance and protection of our beaches and leave them beautiful, healthy and clean.
  1. All licenced vending on beaches can resume operation once approved and certified by the Environmental Health Division and the Social Distancing Task Force. These establishments must meet all requirements related to COVID-19 including sanitisation, safe distance and hygiene modifications. If you are not inspected, approved and certified you cannot open. You cannot operate.

It is important for all of us to ensure that the gains we have made to keep the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum are not lost by a lack of adherence to all of the guidelines put in place for our safety. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for everyone to pay attention to these guidelines that are put in place to keep you safe and all of us safe.

We understand that beaches hold a special place in the collective hearts and minds of the people in this Territory.

Remember, COVID-19 doesn’t care who it affects, but your Government cares.

May God bless all of us and these beautiful Virgin Islands.