Hidden parties a major issue for the COVID task force — Lionel Michael

Director of Environmental Health, Lionel Michael.

Environmental Health Director Lionel Michael said hosting “clandestine parties” was contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in BVI.

Michael, who oversees the social distancing task force, said his agency has encountered serious challenges, particularly with parties that have been advertised without any locations or contact details.

“I think the biggest problem we have now is these parties. These parties and parties that people are throwing and they don’t tell the ministry or the task force when they’re throwing them or where they’re throwing them,” Michael said at a recent party forum. stakeholders to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19 in the territory.

According to Michael, when Social Distancing Task Force officers finally arrive at these events, they are often greeted by people in violation of social distancing protocols.

“When we introduce ourselves, we see people, it’s a big challenge. People don’t wear masks. Of course, they tell you they have their drinks; they eat, they drink,” he added.

Michael acknowledged that the provision of masks allows for the removal of masks during meals and drinks, but said that even when people are not eating or drinking, they remain maskless at these events.

In the meantime, he said concerns remain about establishments that can easily accommodate more than 100 people but still have overcrowding issues.

“We see people having 20 people, 30 people in their place and they can hold 150 and they have 25 and people are still crowding. It seems to be a natural human tendency because when they go out, when they go to social activities, they tend to congregate, congregate and get closer to each other,” Michael said.

He said masks become even more important in these cases.

Penalties

Individuals are fined $100 for a first offense in violation of COVID-19 protocols, while repeat offenders are charged $200 for a second offense.

On the other hand, there is also a fixed fine of $1,000 for companies that violate the protocols. The business will also be closed immediately, Michael said.

He said this is usually followed by training, a quiz, the implementation of social distancing measures and an inspection before they can reopen.

More than 400 tickets

Michael said more than 400 tickets have been issued so far since the task force was established.

The Social Distancing Task Force, under the Environmental Health Division, consists of 43 officers who are stationed in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada.

Officers are responsible for daily surveillance of designated areas within the Territory to ensure that businesses and individuals are adhering to preventative health and safety measures such as wearing face masks in public spaces, maintaining size gatherings, physical distancing, and disinfection protocols and measures.

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