Mister Speaker, throughout this pandemic, the people of the Virgin Islands have time and time again shown their resilience.
Yes, we have been battered and bruised, but not beaten.
Over the period, businesses have had to close and lives interrupted.
But this time of stillness, silence and reflection has given us a greater appreciation of GOD’s Blessings, such as family and indeed a deeper awareness for the natural assets of these British Virgin Islands, where we are so blessed to call home.
Our progress as a country during this ongoing global pandemic is because of the people of the Virgin Islands.
Mister Speaker, because of the people of the Virgin Islands and all of our commitment to the approved health protocols, it has allowed us to now only have two confirmed active positive cases at this time, with just over 10,000 persons vaccinated.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to repeat that, because of the people of the Virgin Islands and all of our commitment to the approved health protocols, it has allowed us to now only have two confirmed active positive cases at this time, with just over 10,000 persons vaccinated.
We still have a long way to go, but through and with the Grace of God we will continue to come together and to do what we have to do for ourselves and this country we call home.
Together, we will continue to proceed with caution and with BVILOVE in these challenging times.
And, while some critics may have complained that we moved too slowly in re-opening, we remained steadfast in our approach, knowing, and understanding that while livelihoods matter, the health and safety of our people are paramount.
We have lost one life during this pandemic and we intend not to lose another.
On April 15th, the Road Town Jetty re-opened, welcoming on that day 17 delighted international visitors to our shores once again.
Since then daily we are seeing an increase in the number of persons returning and visiting our shores via the ferries with international travel. A review of the number of daily ferry trips with a view of increasing the number of persons per trip as well as the number of trips per day, as well as a review of the approved health measures administered upon arrival is being organised.
God continues to be good to us and we thank him.
The progress made is because of us working together.
Mister Speaker, protocols to permit Mega Yachts were passed on 6th November 2020, and we have since welcomed back some of these yachts and their guests.
Our economy continues to benefit from our efforts, but please let us not become complacent. Let us be mindful that we are not out of the woods as yet. We must all continue to wear our masks, continue to be six feet apart, adhere to all health protocols as well as we strongly encourage everyone to be vaccinated. By doing this, it gives us a credible chance to save lives, reboot our economy, shifting us into full throttle — overdrive.
I would like to thank the many hard-working people at the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority, from Members of the Board, Management, to back-office and customer-facing representatives, for making this re-opening a resounding success.
This successful re-opening reinforces my belief that it is not always about doing things fast - it is often more about doing things right and in the right timing - timing is everything.
The management of the BVI Ports put the right measures in place. They have put the right systems in place. They have put the right people in place to ensure a seamless experience for visitors and residents traveling to the BVI by sea. Like everything new, there were and still are teething pains, but they continue to be worked out and daily experiences at the Road Town Jetty are improving.
The Ports Authority has implemented a very sophisticated monitoring system that helps to ensure the continued safety of the residents of the British Virgin Islands, while maintaining optimal traveller experience.
A help desk at the port facilities in the US Virgin Islands in the ferry terminal area of Charlotte Amalie is being worked on, and will be brought to fruition to assist our travellers to the BVI with a seamless experience.
Since re-opening, the BVI Ports Authority has safely received more than 279 delighted visitors and residents to our shores, and everyday those numbers are growing.
Since reopening, the BVI Ports Authority has safely done this and they will continue to do this in a safe manner.
They have moved passengers between Road Town and the Sister Islands using the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park, albeit temporarily.
I thank all our brothers and sisters from the Sister Islands for their cooperation and patience, for we know that you have been inconvenienced during this ongoing pandemic. However, rest assured that all of our efforts are focused on strengthening our economy so that the positive effects would be felt on all islands without compromising health and safety.
We are balancing lives and livelihoods. Together we are rebooting our economy, in this New Regular of living and working with COVID-19.
Now there is more good news as a result of us working together.
In June 2021, the Road Town Jetty will safely accept day-trippers who have been fully vaccinated. This will be another major boost for our economy.
Mister Speaker, the dedicated staff at the BVI Ports truly helps to keep the BVI moving, and for that we are grateful.
Whether through a hurricane, health pandemic or the blistering heat of criticism, these professionals get the job done.
I would like you to join me, in once again congratulating all who played a part in the re-opening of our seaport - for teamwork indeed, makes the dream-work.
As we continue to re-open this economy, I have said this in this Honourable House before, and I will say it again, this Virgin Islands will be going into a 21-day National Fast and Prayer.
Your Government will be calling on every denomination, every culture, every religion, every male and female, young, middle-aged and old, to come together and pray and fast for the success of us individually and collectively.
Our forefathers did this, now it is our turn to do likewise.
Mister Speaker I thank you