Good Morning! I hope you all had a great weekend! On Friday, the British Virgin Islands’ Minister of Health and Social Development, Honourable Calvin Malone, released a statement in regards to loosening restrictions on seaport traffic and border restrictions and quarantine protocols in an attempt to increase visitor traffic into the territory.
First off, let me be frank, the tone of everything I have read to date has led me to believe that the BVI is going to be requiring visitors to be fully vaccinated if they want to avoid a lengthy (four day) quarantine upon arrival.
The statement issued by Calvin Malone this week that includes new protocol as approved by the cabinet, only strengthens that theory.
Effective 15th May 2021, fully vaccinated persons travelling from overseas would require a PCR test within five (5) days of travel, provide satisfactory evidence of being fully vaccinated, and will be subject to a PCR test upon arrival (day zero). Fully vaccinated persons will be quarantined until a negative test result is received from the BVI Health Services Authority. In other words, if the test administered on arrival returns a negative result, the fully vaccinated traveler will be immediately released from quarantine (unless they have been in close contact with a positive case). – Honourable Calvin Malone, April 23, 2021
In short, if you are fully vaccinated and traveling TO the BVI:
- Test within five days of travel (expanded from 72 hours)
- Provide evidence of being fully vaccinated
- Test when you arrive in the BVI on Day Zero
- Quarantine for one day or until negative test results are received from the BVI Health Services Authority
So, that’s a large improvement from previous requirements of testing within 72 hours of arrival, testing on Day Zero, quarantining for four days and then testing out on Day Four.
This is the fun part—-DAY TRIPPERS! No, not for us to enter the BVI just yet, but it seems that residents or long time visitors in the BVI will be able to visit the USVI for periods of less than 24 hours with some loosened restrictions:
Cabinet also decided that effective 15th May 2021, fully vaccinated persons who have been present in the Virgin Islands for a period of more than fourteen (14) consecutive days and travel to the USVI, St. Martin, or Puerto Rico for a period not longer than 24 hours are exempted from quarantine and the COVID-19 test upon re-entering the Territory. However, day-trippers to these neighboring jurisdictions would be required to take a PCR test seven (7) days after returning to the Territory. – Honourable Calvin Malone, April 23, 2021
In short, BVI residents or those who have been present in the British Virgin Islands for longer than 14 days and who are fully vaccinated may travel to the USVI, Puerto Rico or St. Martin for a period not longer than 24 hours and be exempted from quarantine. But, they are required to provide negative test results seven days after re-entering the territory.
Ok, so what does this mean for us and for the businesses in the BVI?
First, the BVI seaports have been closed to incoming international traffic and their residents have been on lock down for over a year at this point. These are cautious, but positive, steps in the right direction for the territory and for the eventual allowance of USVI day trips (just not yet!).
Second- Both land and sea businesses in the BVI should greatly benefit from these measures, effective May 15.
- BVI based charter boats and water taxis may now pick up visitors to the BVI who are staying in the territory. A term charter captain and crew who are fully vaccinated will be able to go pick up their overnight guests in St. Thomas or St. John. Water taxis will be able to resume their services between the territories as well. All, pending the guests (and crew) follow the quarantine and testing protocol upon arrival. For example, if you are staying on Jost van Dyke and flying into St. Thomas and opt for a water taxi ride to the BVI. Your vaccinated BVI captain/vessel can now pick you up in the USVI but you must provide the required pre-travel test results, test upon arrival and quarantine until those test results are returned as negative if you are vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, you must test again after four days of quarantine.
- Land-based businesses in the BVI will hopefully soon be flourishing again! If BVI based term charter boats can pick up guests that only have to quarantine for one day, there are three more days of playing around and bar hopping on the agenda of happy visitors (meaning more dollars spent at local businesses)! Additionally, if BVI charter boats can now pick up in St. Thomas or St. John, it will likely boost their revenues and get more visitors shuffled around to favorite watering holes, shops and dining establishments in the territory.
- Lastly, the loosened quarantine restrictions will likely encourage more vaccinated visitors overall to visit the territory. Many other island nations and territories are following suit with loosening the quarantine and testing restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated. Grenada, for example, is a four to seven day quarantine for non-vaccinated visitors and just 48 hours for those who are vaccinated. Please keep in mind that many of these islands have been mostly closed to tourism over the past 13 months for much longer than the USVI. Loosening restrictions for vaccinated individuals allows them to boost their economies WITHOUT dealing a potentially harsh blow to their fragile healthcare infrastructures.
In a nutshell, it seems that many places are loosening restrictions for vaccinated travelers. They are not keeping their borders closed to those who are not, but the added layer of protection seems to be giving government officials across the Caribbean a bit of peace of mind when welcoming visitors back. (Read the full statement from the BVI.)
Ok, and what this means for us…It’s quite, um, unclear. Ha! It would seem that if they are opening their private seaports to overnight visitors arriving via private vessels based in the BVI, that those of us arriving by private vessel from the USVI would also be permitted, PENDING the vaccination requirements, pre-test and Day Zero test. This is an assumption but I would imagine that if the captain, crew and passengers are all fully vaccinated with negative test results in hand on a USVI vessel arriving in the BVI, that the one day quarantine and testing upon entry would also apply.
As per usual, the statement released last week had some definitive holes in it in regards to which seaports will be open and to whom. But, these are ALL steps in a great direction for our sister islands and the residents there. And, if the patterns we have seen in the past for these statements hold true, we will likely be seeing a lot of updates in regards to the specifics between now and May 15! Soon come Soggy Dollar. Soon Come 🙂