Good Morning, Good Morning! I’m coming to you live from St. Simon Island, Georgia this morning after a nice relaxing vacay with the fam this week. I head back home to St. John tomorrow (without having to deal with the travel portal!), but wanted to take a few moments today to share with you all some information in regards to the recent changes to COVID-19 protocol in the British Virgin Islands that hit the press last week.
Ok, so to get to the nitty gritty of it quickly, the following protocols changed in the British Virgin Islands on June 15, 2022:
- The wearing of masks in indoor or outdoor settings is no longer required.
- Travelers will no longer have to request approval for entry vis the BVI Gateway (Similar to USVI Travel Portal).
- Travelers who have been away from the BVI for less than 24 hours no longer need to present a COVID test upon arrival.
- Travelers who will be in the BVI for less than 24 hours no longer need to present a COVID test upon arrival.
Ok, so, before you grab the phone to book your boat for a day trip, let me be clear, the COVID entry protocols into the BVI and the rigamarole that they are asking of foreign charter vessels are unrelated. So, there still won’t be a flood of USVI boats rolling into the BVI for day trips (more on that in a minute). However, this, paired with the recent changes to the USVI (CDC) entry protocols for international travel, should make the ferry process easier for those of you planning to join Inter Island Boat Services for a day on Jost van Dyke (They are waiting for the official announcement on all of this in order to change their protocols for the ferry. So, please be patient while they get their process in place and follow them on FB in order to get the most up to date information.).
Additionally, these testing protocol changes do not apply to visitors who plan to stay in the BVI for longer than 24 hours.
“Beginning on June 15, persons traveling to the BVI, regardless of vaccination status, will no longer need to register for entry clearance on the BVI Gateway Travel Portal and will not be required to show proof of travel insurance,” Opposition Leader and Health Minister, Marlon Penn in a radio broadcast last week. “Day-trippers, meaning travelers who had been away from the territory for less than 24 hours, or persons remaining in the territory for less than 24 hours, will no longer need to present a COVID-19 test result upon arrival.”
All travelers, regardless of vaccination status and over the age of five, who plan to be in the BVI longer than 24 hours still need to provide a negative rapid antigen test, or rt-PCR test, taken up to 48 hours before entry, a COVID-19 recovery certificate issued by a licensed medical professional OR test upon arrival in the territory. Anyone that tests positive upon arrival will be referred to the Ministry of Health for protocols and instructions.
Ok, so, according to all of this, day trippers no longer need to test in order to gain access to the BVI OR re-enter the USVI. All great, right? Well, there is still some murky water here to swim through…
Currently, I know of ONLY two USVI based charter businesses that have jumped through the costly hoops in order to run commercial day trips in the BVI. Both will cost you $2k for a party of six…plus fuel, customs, etc. I have mentioned that the process they are asking us to go through is costly, right? Well, as long as those protocols stand, you can likely expect to pay a premium to any company who gets er done.
With the relaxed testing protocols, the ferry to Jost from St. John should be an easier option soon. And many of you MAY have picked up on the fact that BVI based charter operations have been picking guests up in the USVI for day trips. But, a memorandum from the USVI Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) dated May 26, 2022 may be thickening the plot on that option as well…
In a nutshell, this explains that DLCA will be increasing enforcement at sea ports in order to better monitor illegal charter vessels (commercial trips for hire that do not have a USVI business license). The SPECIFIC mention of boats coming into a USVI port from outside of US waters in order to pick up and/or discharge paying fares leads me to believe that this enforcement is targeted at the BVI boats who have been coming into the territory to take USVI visitors into the BVI. I would imagine the majority of these BVI based boats don’t have a USVI business license. Just like our charter operations on St. John don’t have a BVI business license. Which is PRETTY MUCH what they are asking us to do.
So, BRAVO to the USVI government for taking some action on this. Many charter companies and owners have been asking for some type of balance in this situation for some time and have written letters to Governor Bryan in regards to it. So….Thanks for listening, Gov!
The above information encapsulates the current status of day tripping and entry requirements for those who can figure out how to do so! I do plan to head to the BVI sometime over the coming weeks, be it on the ferry or privately on our boat, in order to chat with some folks on the ground over there and send a little love to you all via photos and updates from one of our favorite places. But, private vessels have also received some inconsistent information at customs in the BVI. So, keep your fingers crossed for me, stay tuned, thanks for following along and I hope you all have an absolutely splendid Monday!