Good Morning all. It’s been a bit since I last updated you on our sister islands and I wanted to take a moment to do just that. I know many of you have sent ongoing questions in regards to the changing times of COVID in the Virgin Islands. So, I’ll also give you a brief update on what Governor Bryan is doing in the USVI as well.
The BVI Port Authority released a notice on Tuesday that they will be postponing the opening of their seaports yet again. The release follows a heightened volume of arrivals at the Beef Island Airport that has resulted in some additional COVID cases in the territory. The Premier said, in a statement issued on January 2, that the territory currently has 12 active cases of the virus with a total of 97 cases overall for the 10 months since this global pandemic hit their shores. He also warned, in this statement, that this number may not seems large. But the territory overall is less than 40,000 people with an even more fragile health care system than the USVI. If the territory reaches 20 active cases, the Cabinet may review protocols and make some changes once again.
Additionally, due to a spike in the UK, the BVI will be banning travel from their mother country effective January 11 until further notice-
(The Cabinet) has decided in light of the new strain of COVID-19 prevalent in the United Kingdom (UK), to implement a travel ban effective 11th January,2020 of persons travelling from the UK to the British Virgin Islands except for Nationals, Belongers, Residents, work permit holders, persons permitted to reside in the Territory, diplomats and persons employed by Government and Statutory agencies
The move to prolong the opening of the territory’s seaports comes with the reports of this spike in cases in the territory that is indefinitely travel related (the majority of these new cases were discovered on the “Day 4” testing). Initially, the Road Town Ferry Terminal was tentatively scheduled to accept incoming international ferry passengers on December 8. After the unexpected volume of arrivals at the airport’s re-opening during the first week of that month, it was postponed to January 21, 2021. Well, with the spike in cases and the new strain of the virus on the rise, the BVI have pushed back to March 1, 2021 with the opening of that seaport.
Some verbiage that I hadn’t noticed before is the “international ferry passengers” quip. I have not seen anything in regards to the acceptance of private international vessels at BVI ports. But I will keep an eye out, and keep you updated. I’m also very ready to see the shores of Anegada one day soon 🙁 In a nutshell, it seems if you want to sail the BVI this winter, you will need to fly in and quarantine for four days on a government “approved” BVI vessel.
In other news, the USVI’s regularly scheduled press conference was cancelled this week due to a fiber optic line being accidentally damaged on St. Croix. There is no update as to when we will hear from the Governor again, but I’ll keep you in the loop as to any news there as well.
One thing he did announce last week is some changes to the protocol for testing prior to arrival in the territory. The USVI Government will be partnering with the airlines to restrict any travel to the territory without a negative COVID-19 test. Yes, an antibody test works. No, I don’t know if a vaccine will work. But I assume that that will rapidly become a part of the conversation. The Governor hopes that this added layer of protection for the Territory’s residents will keep continue to keep cases down. And keep the USVI and our businesses open!
So, here’s a breakdown:
Residents and visitors alike, over the age of five years old, will be required to upload a negative COVID-19 test that was administered within 5 days of travel. (Or a positive anti-body test administered within four months of travel)
The partnership with the airlines will require that these results are uploaded BEFORE you can check in for your flight, get your boarding pass or board the aircraft.
This really doesn’t change anything too much for those of you that will be visiting…Except to give some added peace of mind that EVERY single person on your inbound USVI flight will be holding a negative COVID-19 test. As I said, I’ll be reporting more in depth on this addition to our airport testing protocols once a new press conference is aired.