Moving forward, we will post all information on COVID-19, and its effects on St. John in one place. Please take note of the publishing date on each story below. This situation is fluid, and the information can change at any moment. We will do our best to keep you updated & informed.
To see which businesses are closing/closed/offering take-out, etc., please visit www.newsofstjohn.com/closed
As of April 7, 2020, there have been 42 confirmed cases in the US Virgin Islands. There have been two confirmed case on St. John, 28 on St. Thomas and 12 on St. Croix. There has been one COVID-19-related death.
April 7, 2020: St. John Beaches Closed, Trails Closed, Changes to Business Schedules & More
Well folks, it was only a matter of time.
The Governor announced Monday that all beaches in the US Virgin Islands will be closed through April 20 in an effort to further enforce social distancing. The release went on to say:
“Persons known to have the virus who willfully violate the directives as determined by the Health commissioner can be criminally charged under Title 14 of the V.I. Code, according to the Attorney General.
“Title 14, subsection 886 states “[w]however willfully exposes himself or another afflicted with any contagious or infectious disease in any public place or thoroughfare… shall be fined not more than $200 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.”
The Virgin Islands National Park followed up the Governor’s announcement with a release of its own that stated all trails and parking lots in the Virgin Islands National Park will be closed too. All park waters remain open. “Mariners using park moorings and anchorage areas can expect further guidance and safety requirements later this week,” the release said.
The ferries and barges have altered their schedules as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is the current passenger ferry schedule:
Three barge companies provide service between St. John and St. Thomas – Love City Car Ferries, Global Marine and Big Red Barge Co. Here are their updated schedules:
The Virgin Islands Port Authority released the following information yesterday regarding flights to the Territory:
The Governor announced that all incoming passengers are being screened for COVID-19.
And to reiterate, the US Virgin Islands are currently under a State of Emergency and will be through April 30. All non-essential businesses are closed through April 30. Hotels, villas, Airbnbs, etc. are not allowed to accept new checkins through April 24. If any of these dates get extended, we will be sure to let you know.
April 2: COVID-19 Update
Here is the latest information we know:
- As of April 2, there are 33 confirmed cases in the US Virgin Islands. There are two cases on St. John, 20 on St. Thomas and 11 on St. Croix.
- Governor Bryan extended the Territory’s State of Emergency through April 30.
- Governor Bryan extended the Territory’s Stay at Home order through April 30.
- Governor Bryan extended the closure of all non-essential businesses through April 30.
- Hotels, villa owners, Airbnbs and other accommodations are not permitted to accept new guests for the time being. That order went into effect March 25 and continues for 30 days. There is an exception for those who were in the Territory prior to March 25 and needed to change accommodations.
- Health screenings are expected to begin at the Territory’s airports.
- All bars are closed.
- Restaurants are allowed to operate for take-out only. There is no in-person dining.
- The following restaurants are open on St. John. This list is ever-changing, so please check with your favorite restaurant for specific details and hours.
- Sam & Jack’s
- Shaibu’s Grab & Go
- The Tap Room
- North Shore Deli
- Cafe Roma
- Dave & Jerry’s
- Hillcrest Terrace
- Ronnie’s Pizza
- Uncle Joe’s BBQ
- The Longboard
- Extra Virgin Bistro
- Cruz Bay Landing
- Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis
- Miss Lucy’s
- Skinny Legs (reopening April 3)
- The Virgin Islands National Park remains open, although many services have been suspended.
- Governor Bryan states Tuesday that it will likely be not until June or July “before economic activity on the islands returns to normal,” the St. John Source reported.
The Virgin Islands National Park put out a message yesterday regarding changes due to COVID-19. Here are the details…
- The Cruz Bay Visitor Center is closed. Information and services will not be available.
- The park dock and bulkhead at the Cruz Bay Visitor Center is closed to commercial activity.
- No more than two individuals may occupy a dinghy when traveling to or from the NPS dock.
- All restrooms and portable toilets in the park are closed.
- Guided hikes and other on-site public or educational programs are cancelled.
- Food service and watersports rentals at Trunk Bay will not be available.
- The park will not issue special visitor use or business permits.
- Trash will not be collected. When visiting the park bring garbage bags so you can take your trash with you. Pack it in, pack it out.
- Trash receptacles will not be available for boater trash. Boaters must make other arrangements for trash disposal.
- Do not leave trash on shore.
- The pavilions at Trunk, Maho, and Hawksnest Bays are closed, as are changing rooms and showers.
- The park will not operate or provide restrooms, maintain roads or walkways.
- Outdoor spaces, including park trails, beaches, and waters remain accessible to the public in accordance with the latest federal, state, and local health guidance.
- Moorings remain open.
- The waters of Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument remain open.
- Law enforcement staff will remain on duty and may be reached at 1-866-995-8467.
- Visitors may visit park beaches via taxi, provided that no more than two people sit in each row of vehicle seats.
- At beaches, BBQs and parties are not permitted. While visiting beaches, visitors must maintain social distancing and avoid crowding, the release stated.
We will let you know if/when there are changes to the above information.
March 23, 2020: The Latest from St. John
Well folks, we made it to Monday. By now, you’ve probably read or been told that visitors are unable to check into any accommodation – hotel, villa, Airbnb, etc. – for a 30-day period beginning this Wednesday, March 25, 2020 per order of the Governor. This pertains to St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix. The Governor issued this order to keep our community healthy, and I hope everyone – visitors and business owners alike – abides by it.
As of today, March 23, 2020, there are seventeen cases of COVID-19 in the US Virgin Islands. Nine are in St. Croix and 8 are in St. Thomas. As of today, there are no cases on St. John. There are two pending tests – one in St. Croix and one in St. Thomas.
Beginning today, all bars must close. Restaurants can remain open, but for take-out only. There is no in house-dining at this time. This applies to the entire Virgin Islands.
The majority of shops are closing today.
The airports and seaports remain open. The Governor said he will not ask that they be closed. (Only the federal government can close the airport. Only the Coast Guard can close the seaports.)
St. John is basically shutting down. And while this will be devastating to our economy, I believe it is the right thing to do in order to limit the spread of this virus.
So what can you do? If you have a trip that is occurring within the 30-day window when you are not allowed to arrive, I ask that you postpone, not cancel. If you have a trip scheduled for May, June or beyond, I ask that you wait before making a decision to postpone or cancel. Let’s see what occurs here in the next few weeks please.
If you love St, John, you can still support us during this time. Go online, and visit your favorite shop or restaurant. Chances are they have online shopping. Many offer gift certificates too. If you plan on coming back, buy a gift certificate from your favorite restaurant now and use it later. Small steps like this can really help our economy during this time.
Planning on taking a boat charter the next time you return? How about an island tour with me? Consider booking those trips now. Let us know you are coming back. 🙂
If you are looking to bring a little St. John into your homes during this time, consider purchasing a St. Johnopoly board game. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it’s just like the traditional Monopoly board game but for St. John. So rather than starting at Go, you will start at the Ferry Dock. You will go around the board using tokens like a Jeep and a petroglyph while landing on some of your favorite spots including Miss Lucy’s, The Beach Bar and more.
You can purchase your St. Johnopoly game at www.newsofstjohn.com/stjohnopoly
Most importantly, please come back. So many of you did after the hurricanes, and I hope you choose to again. We will be here waiting for you… when the time is right of course!
Have a great day everyone, and hang in there. We’re all in this together.
March 21, 2020: USVI Governor: Tourists Cannot Visit for the Next 30 Days
Earlier today, we told you how we thought guests should stay home rather than visiting in the near future. We also stated how we wished the Virgin Islands government would do more to ensure the safety of all residents. Well tonight, I am please to share the following information with all of you.
Governor Bryan just released an update on YouTube. In it, he mentioned several key changes that will take place over the next few days. Most notably, the governor stated that no hotel, timeshare, Air BNB, etc. can accept guests over the next 30 days. The only exemption would be government or emergency personnel.
“If you are coming to the Virgin Islands, you will not have anywhere to stay for the next 30 days,” Governor Bryan stated.
This order does not apply to guests that are already in the Virgin Islands, he said.
Here are additional points made by the Governor:
- The Governor urged everyone maintain social distance by staying at least six feet away from one another.
- The Governor urged everyone to stay home as much as possible, It’s ok to go out for a walk or a drive, the Governor said, but “please refrain from congregating.”
- All bars must close effective Monday.
- Restaurants can remain open, but for take-out only. No in-house dining will be permitted.
- Businesses can only allow 10 customers to enter at a time.
- Taxi capacities will be cut in half.
- The Government is monitoring the ferries and plans to meet wit the operator on Monday. He will provide an update on this then.
- Effective Wednesday, the Governor is issuing a stay at home order. This is not a curfew, he stressed. The Governor stated people can engage in services necessary to daily life.
You can see the entire update below:
March 22, 2020: A Few Thoughts from Me
Hello everyone, well we made it to the weekend. It’s pretty crazy to think what can happen in one week.
As of this morning, we have six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US Virgin Islands. We still have 43 tests that are awaiting results.
I am still receiving emails asking whether or not people should visit us. If your trip is within the next two weeks, I ask you to ask yourself how you would feel if you unknowingly carried the virus to already vulnerable place with a fragile healthcare system. If you love St. John, please stay home if your trip is supposed to take place this month or the first week of April.
My income is based on tourism. My partner’s income is heavily based on tourism. The majority of my friends’ income is based on tourism. At this point, we recognize that it is more important to keep our community safe than to encourage guests to visit the island. It saddens me to write that, but that is the current reality here.
If your trip is in the latter part of April, May, June or beyond, I ask that you hold off before canceling or postponing this trip. Let’s take a wait and see approach. At this point, I am hopeful that tourism will resume by mid- to late spring.
For those of you who already cancelled your trips, I ask that you come back when you are able to. And if you are able to come back, please support our local businesses. Go out to eat. Take a ride in a taxi. Purchase a souvenir. Go on a boat trip. Or even take an island tour with me.
Beginning today, businesses in the US Virgin Islands can only have 10 patrons at a time. Because of this, the majority of restaurants are offering take-out only. Some have decided to close altogether.
Starfish Market, here on St. John, will offer seniors-only hour every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. to persons age 60 and over. This should be reserved for residents only and not guests to the island.
I’m happy that the US Virgin Islands is taking steps to stop the spread, although I wish they would take more action to keep our community safe and healthy.
We got through Irma and Maria, and we will get through this too. -Jenn xoxo
March 19, 2020: Thursday COVID-19 Update: Info on Restaurants & Airport
Our Governor held a press conference today to update the Territory on what’s happening here regarding COVID-19. Here are some of the top messages :
- As of Thursday, March 19, 2020, there are only three cases of COVID-19 in the US Virgin Islands (St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix.) One case is in Croix; two cases are in the St. John/St. Thomas district. It has not been reported which island both cases are on, although it is believed both cases are on St. Thomas. The Ritz Carlton on St. Thomas announced to guests that there was a positive case at the resort.
- The government is “contact tracing” any individuals who may have come into contact with one of the three infected persons. Those people are being tested for COVID-19. The government stated there is drive thru testing for individuals marked as “persons under interest.” That drive thru testing is happening on St. Thomas and St. Croix. As of today, that testing is not happening on St. John. Currently they are awaiting results of 21 tests.
- Beginning Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 6 a.m., businesses, including bars and restaurants, will be required to limit the number of patrons to 10. Big box stores like Home Depot and Kmart on St. Thomas, for example, will be exempt as they have the ability to maintain adequate social distancing, the Governor stated.
- Regarding travel and tourism, the Governor estimated that there are only about 1,500 tourists in the Territory. He stated that air travel to the Territory “slowed to a trickle” and that people leaving the Territory remains high. “As of now, we don’t have any plans to close the airport,” the Governor said.
- All licenses will be granted a 60-day extension. This includes business licenses, motor vehicle licenses and registrations, etc.
- The Governor said he expects to increase safety measures moving forward. He emphasized that if everyone followed the rules, a curfew would not go into effect.
- Lastly, the government urged everyone to sign up for COVID-19 updates by texting COVID19USVI to 888777.
We are keeping a list of closings at www.newsofstjohn.com/closed
March 18, 2020 – Wednesday Update from St. John
Hello everyone! I just wanted to put out a quick update to let you all know what is happening down here.
As of this morning (7:30 a.m.), there are only two cases of COVID-19 in the US Virgin Islands.
Our airports and seaports remain open, and will remain open at this time.
The British Virgin Islands will begin restricting visitors beginning tomorrow, March 19, 2020. Only BVI residents, belongers and those with a valid work permit will be able to enter the BVI.
A few of our restaurants have decided to close temporarily in an effort to stop the spread. Others have decided to offer take-out only. The restaurants who continue to offer in-house dining will limit the number of patrons to 50, per order of the Governor.
At this time, only the timeshare side of Grande Bay has decided to close. The hotel side of Grande Bay is staying open. All other hotels on St. John remain open and plan to stay open.
The National Park is open and will remain open. The Park has decided to close its Visitor Center and has cancelled all guided hikes and park programs. The beaches, trails and water are open.
We’ve compiled a list of closings. You can view it at www.newsofstjohn.com/closed
March 16, 2020 – How the USVI is Addressing COVID-19
Hi all, our governor and several senior government officials just held a press conference and addressed the way the US Virgin Islands – St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix – is handling the COVID-19 crisis. Here is what they said:
- As of this afternoon (March 16, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.), the US Virgin Islands only has one confirmed case of COVID-19. The government will not release which island the infected person lives on. The Governor stated he would not release the specific island because we live in a small community, and he wants to respect the individual’s privacy.
- Following the lead of many states, the US Virgin Islands will limit the number of people gathering to 50. This applies to bars and restaurants as well. Because of this, St. Thomas carnival has been postponed. If people and businesses do not adhere to the less than 50 rule, the Governor will consider a curfew. The Governor emphasized that he preferred not to implement a curfew but would if people did not comply.
- All public schools in the US Virgin Islands will close for at least three weeks beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
- The Governor asked that people avoid using public ferries unless absolutely necessary for the time being. He plans to continue discussions with the ferry operators to determine how to best reduce density to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.
- The director of VITEMA, the Territory’s emergency management agency, stated that there has not been any impact to our supply chain thus far, and none is anticipated. As you know, the majority of our food and supplies is brought into the Territory via ship.
- The director of the Port Authority stated that the airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix are open and will remain operational. He added that the airports are controlled by the FAA and that the federal government would have to make the decision to close the ports, which would include the airports and seaports. He did say that the situation is fluid and can change at anytime. But to reiterate, the airport on St. Thomas is open and will remain open.
- The Governor stated that all cruise ship activity has stopped for 30 days. As of today, travel between the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands continues. The Governor stated he planned to speak with the Premier of the British Virgin Islands later today and will discuss best practices to keep travelers between the two countries safe.
- The Governor echoed the director of VITEMA’s statement and said there is not a shortage of food in the Territory.
- The Governor did not say that tourism should temporarily cease. He did not say to visit, and he did not say not to visit. We’re going to follow his lead on this one. If you cancel your trip, please come back and see us someday. If you do visit, please know that we are open, and you will be welcomed and treated kindly.
- And finally, the government officials stated that we all need to continue to be smart about this. We need to wash our hands. We need to practice social distancing. We need to self quarantine if we are feeling sick.
I would like to thank everyone who provided feedback today regarding how you would like News of St. John to continue. I was overwhelmed by the response. We will continue to share tidbits on island happenings. We will also continue to share information on COVID-19, its effects in the US Virgin Islands and our government’s response.
Thanks all. Be well. -Jenn xoxo
Tag: USVI COVID-19
March 14, 2020 – St. John & the Coronavirus
I’ve received countless emails regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) over the past few days. People have asked me if they should visit the island or stay away. People have asked about our healthcare system, whether our shelves are stocked. I by no means have all the answers. Frankly, I have very few answers. Here is what I do know.
St. John has a fragile health care system on a good day. We have a large number of elderly residents on St. John, and, as you know, they are the most vulnerable population right now. We need to protect them and keep them healthy.
The government announced it has six negative pressure rooms at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas in addition to quarantined areas in its emergency room. The VI Consortium reported that training has occurred at Schneider and also at Myrah Keating, our 24-hour clinic here on St. John.
The Governor, who oversees St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix, announced last night that one person in the US Virgin Islands had tested positive for COVID-19. It is believed that person is located in St. Croix.
Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC cruise lines have ceased operations for the next 30 days. These cruise lines regularly dock in St. Thomas.
I’ve been asked repeatedly whether St. John wants tourists to continue visiting during this time. Truthfully, some people do, and some people do not. The Governor addressed the Territory yesterday morning. He did not mention tourism specifically, and he did not say whether or not people should continue to visit or cancel their trips. I reached out to the Governor and his communications team to get clarification, and have yet to hear back.
Our ports remain open. Our airport and seaports are operating as usual. Our ferries and barges continue to run.
Our restaurants and shops remain open. Our beaches are open. The National Park is open.
Our grocery stores are open. As of yesterday (my last trip to one), the shelves looked normal for a typical Friday. Have I heard stories of people running out to scoop up lots of toilet paper like in the States? Absolutely.
Today’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has been cancelled, although Quiet Mon Pub does intend to have corned beef as planned. Just like in the States, our government is cancelling all mass gathering events in effort to limit the spread of the virus.
I spoke with a friend yesterday who is in the medical field here on St. John, and she stated that St. John does have the ability to obtain testing for COVID-19.
I reached out to numerous friends yesterday who are boat captains, ferry captains, taxi drivers, restaurants owners and shop owners. I reached out to people who were born and raised here, and people who chose to make St. John their home. I asked all of them if they planned on closing. I asked if they were doing anything differently these days. The response from all was they they will continue business as usual but that they are cleaning more now than ever. The ferry captain, for example, said he had hired two new people specifically to clean and disinfect the ferry between trips.
While having lunch at Mongoose Junction yesterday, I saw several business owners and employees disinfecting doors and windows. I saw bottles of hand sanitizer in many businesses.
Tourism is the backbone of economy. Should you cancel our trip, I ask that you return in the future. Should you choose to come, please know that St. John is open and you will be welcomed.