After well over a year of gearing up and preparing for the eventual re-opening of the Territory, the BVI and the ever-changing protocols have continued to cripple the charter business and all those who serve the charter industry. From maintenance shops to restaurants, the impact has been devastating and seemingly, no clear plan for reclaiming any sense of normalcy.
Here's the specific wording in the latest protocols that prevent VIYC boats from entering the Territory:
"(4) Streamlines the Territory's approach to, and oversight of, small vessels to enter the Territory; recongnising that entry procedures and measures to regulate business conducted by foreign entities are in place. Of note it:
(a) Defines "Small Vessel" as a vessel under 78 feet length overall; (b) Enables both private and commercially registered small vessels to enter the Territory;
i. Foreign-based small vessels from entering the Territory with [paying] passengers on board, or
conducting commercial activities while in the Territory; and
ii Small vessels day-tripping to the BVI given the heightened risk of COVID-19 exposure, unless the
vessel is a pre-authorised water taxi operating in accordance with published protocols."
Since all our boats are considered foreign-based and every charter has paying passengers onboard, VIYC boats are not allowed to sail into the BVI.
As of July 10th, as reported by Dr. Ronald Georges - Ag Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, the BVI has seen an exponential growth in active COVID cases with a trend of increasing number of daily reports of new cases. "Persons should stay at home and respect the stay-at-home order and limit all non-essential movements. Respect the curfew order and limit non-essential activities and opportunities for person to person spread."
In quite the contrast, the US Virgin Islands has been open since June 1st of 2020 and is absolutely thriving. The influx of travelers has brought a much needed boost to our economy and the tourism industry as a whole. Local businesses have responded well to the call and the USVI continues to welcome our most valued guests.