Despite a letter from restaurant owners on June 10, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s is continuing to insist on the use of disposable food service items to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and suggest that customers bring their own plates, cups, and cutlery when dining out.
“In these unprecedented times, we understand you have not had a playbook to lead the way. Given the Government’s reliance on CDC guidelines, we were alarmed to learn late last week of a needless and unwarranted deviation adopted without private sector consultation. The decision to require restaurants to use disposable plates, cutlery, and beverage containers and to encourage guests to bring their own contradicts the guidelines issued by the CDC,” according to a letter, which is signed by restaurant owners from all four islands, as well as industry groups like the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association and the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John Chambers of Commerce.
“The USVI mandate that all restaurants use disposable wares was adopted without a balanced representation of restaurateurs and without a comprehensive understanding of the benefits and costs,” according to the letter. “We urge you to adopt the CDC Guidelines for restaurants which offers far better protection to the dining public without imposing unnecessary and costly demands on restaurants and avoiding overloading the landfill with plastic.”
Restaurants were originally ordered to transition to single-service tableware by June 15. However, the V.I. Department of Health announced a postponement to June 22 to give restaurants more time to procure the disposable tableware. Bryan said the change is only temporary and may be shorter than expected should infection rates drop.
“We’re in a world pandemic where over 100,000 people in America alone have died,” Bryan said at a news conference Monday. “If the biggest problem in the Virgin Islands is ‘We don’t want to use plastic cutlery for 60 days,’ then I’m doing good — I’ll take that heat.”