Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you all found a great way to celebrate the old year and ring in the new over the weekend! We closed out the old year with a DOLPHIN sighting at Lovango Cay! A mama and her baby were just playing around in the water right next to us for like 20 minutes. I laughed, I cried and a gave a whole lotta gratitude for that magical moment in time. And we rang in the New Year at Beach Bar with Mother Goat and many beautiful members of our island family. Masked up and getting down. It was AWESOME. So cheers to you, cheers to St. John and cheers to a bright new 2022 ahead of us all 🙂 And, now, on to the news….
Last week, I did two different updates about the COVID testing for travel regulations that went into effect today. As of Monday, January 3, 2022, ALL travelers into the territory (over the age of five) are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel into the territory.
Even with a call to the Department of Tourism and a deep dig on research, I still managed to get some inaccurate information in there (don’t shoot the messenger! Ha!). So, I wanted to take a moment this morning to, yet again, clarify some miscommunications in the posts. For reference, please read the other two updates before proceeding if you have not already:
- COVID-19 Update- Important Changes to Travel Testing | News of St. John (newsofstjohn.com)
- Your Travel Testing Questions Answered | News of St. John (newsofstjohn.com)
Ok, so one of the major inconsistencies that I received on my call with the DOT was the testing window. They told me that (and I asked three times for clarification) the test needed to be taken within 72 hours OF ARRIVAL. That’s a tough one for those of you arriving from the mid-west or the west coast. But, later that day, the following infographic popped up, implying that the testing window is the same as the five day window was previously….
So, if you are TRAVELING on a Friday afternoon, you need to test between Tuesday afternoon and your departure. Got it?
The second piece of major misinformation I received was about the at home tests. I was told, three times, that the proctored BiNax Now at home tests would not be accepted. But, a reader, or six, reached out and said that they HAD in fact flown in with these tests successfully. One of the readers (Thank you Mindy!) even submitted to me screen shots of her correspondence with the Department of Tourism.
From Mindy, regarding her inquiry about the acceptance of BiNax Now Ag Card, proctored via video by emed.com. (Dated December 18, 2021)
And, the response from USVI Department of Tourism (December 19, 2021):
So, these SPECIFIC proctored at home tests, according to this correspondence, should work as long as they are administered and submitted with the specifics included from the email above. So, if you are lucky enough to have these on hand, or be able to find them, they will work with a licensed physician’s oversight via emed.com.
One more question that came up a bit that I honestly overlooked was in regards to the age requirements for testing. The age requirement is age five and older for testing. That has not changed from the previous protocols.
Oh, and one more additional tidbit on the COVID front…I’m sure you have all seen in the news that cruise ships are being turned away at ports for both changes in local regulations at those ports and ships reporting above a certain percentage of positivity rates. The USVI is no exception to that trend and has currently turned away a few ships for reporting that they were above the 1% positivity rate threshold. The BVI has also stopped passengers from disembarking at ports due to reports of positive COVID cases on board. Puerto Rico has changed their policies in regards to COVID for cruise ship passengers and, as of last week, eleven ships have cancelled their call on our sister island. I’m not sure what exactly the cruise lines are doing outside of re-routing to different ports, but I will say that this is resulting in A LOT of charter cancellations for the St. Thomas/St. John district.
That’s all for today, but there is another press conference tomorrow, Tuesday, January 4, at 1PM AST. I’ll be watching and will update you Wednesday morning with any additional changes to restrictions and protocols. Unfortunately, the territory is currently sitting at an all time high of 2150 active COVID-19 cases and a 7-day positivity average of 23.40% as of January 1, 2022. St John had 92 cases as of this last report as well. I’m hoping that there will be no news to share with you on Wednesday morning. But, we shall see what tomorrow brings.
I’m truly sorry to be the continual bearer of bad news on this front but keeping you accurately informed is the goal. Beaches and sunsets for you tomorrow. Have a great Monday everyone!