Good day, everyone! We have a couple of important changes to the COVID-19 testing requirements to share with you today, as well as an update on the new pilot program regarding on-the-spot testing at our VI airports!
This is the day many of us have been anticipating all month –
Today we start welcoming back our valued guests!
Ordinarily this time of year, we see a noticeable decrease in the number of visitors given that August and September are peak hurricane months; however, the past four weeks have been unusually quiet given that our hotels, Airbnbs, villas, and other guest-lodging resources were ordered closed by Governor Bryan for four weeks, starting on August 19, 2020.
A lot of you have commented and sent in messages in regards to the re-opening of the British Virgin Islands. Here’s what we’ve found…
The territory reverted back to the Safer at Home phase today, and most non-essential businesses are allowed to reopen! According to Governor Albert Bryan, his decision to move our territory back to this phase was largely due to the increase of testing and decrease in positive cases, which has moved us below the 5% positivity rate threshold.
We have quite a few updates to share with you regarding our hotel reopening date, visitor testing requirements, restaurants, and beach hours from today’s press conference:
Hotels, Airbnbs, villas, and guest houses can begin checking in guests on Saturday, September 19, 2020. US Virgin Island residents who would like a staycation are allowed to stay in local hotels beginning today if they provide a local identification card.
One of the most significant changes announced at today’s press conference is that ALL travelers (residents and guests) entering the territory must present a negative COVID test result when arriving at one of the USVI airports. Every traveler 15 years of age or older is required to produce either:
- A negative COVID-19 antigen (molecular/PCR/rapid) test result received within five days prior to travel to the USVI (the five day window is related to receiving your test results, not taking the test), or
- A positive COVID-19 antibody test result received within four months prior to travel to the USVI.
To expedite the arrival process at the airport, please register and upload your test results in advance of arrival on the USVI Travel Portal, which can be accessed here.
According to Governor Bryan, the government is working toward making rapid testing available at the airport so that guests who are unable to be tested prior to travel can be tested upon their arrival in the territory. They anticipate that this system will be in place by the end of the month. In the meantime, those who arrive without test results can be tested at one of our facilities on St. John or St. Thomas, or quarantine for up to 14 days while in the territory.
Restaurants are allowed to reopen for dining in, with the following conditions:
- No serving alcohol at bar counters;
- Restaurants are prohibited from seating more than six persons per table;
- Tables must be at least six feet apart;
- Patrons must wear masks upon entering the restaurant and while walking around, but may remove them at all times while seated; and
- Employees must wear facial coverings at all times.
All bars that do not serve food will continue to remain closed.
Beaches will remain open until 4:00 pm on weekends and holidays, opening at 6:00 am the following day. There are no restrictions on beach hours during the week.
No greater than 50 persons may gather in any given place, and social distancing of six feet is required. Churches and other places of worship may reopen today, subject to the maximum person mandate, and attendees can partake in communion.
Casinos and gaming facilities are allowed to reopen on September 19, 2020. Nursing homes and senior living facilities will remain closed.
We will keep you posted on any further updates, and we can’t wait to welcome you back!
Governor Albert Bryan announced that the Stay at Home order will be downgraded to Safer at Home starting Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Additionally, the hotel check-in system will be reopened for guests on Friday, September 18, 2020.
The guidelines under the Safer at Home phase include:
- Non-essential businesses open, bars remain closed, hotel reservations system closed;
- Indoor/Outdoor recreation facilities open, no food or drink;
- No gathering greater than 50, facial coverings and social distancing required;
- Nursing homes closed to visitation;
- Beaches closed at 4:00 pm on weekends and holidays.
The Governor also announced that starting on September 8, 2020, restaurants may once again resume dine-in services, with the following restrictions:
- No serving of alcohol at the bar counters;
- No seating of more than 6 persons per table;
- Tables must be 6 feet apart; and
- Patrons must wear masks at all times when not eating or drinking.
Finally, the news many of you have been anticipating – hotels may resume checking in guests on Friday, September 18, 2020, and may once again accept travel reservations starting on Saturday, September 12, 2020.
Be sure to watch for our summary of the next press conference on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 for additional announcements!
Governor Bryan confirmed at today’s press conference the extension of the Stay at Home order, which expires at 8:00 am on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Under this policy, non-essential businesses and schools will remain closed, and restaurants will remain open for take-out only. There was no discussion regarding an extension of the visitor ban which is currently set to expire on September 18, 2020.
According to Governor Bryan, we need to get the community spread down to an acceptable number. Given that we are seeing a reduction in our positivity rate, he believes the Stay at Home order is working, and the government looks forward to relaxing the current policies if this trend continues.
“We are doing all of this just to keep people safe, and we ask that you do the right thing,” said the Governor, adding that he feels we are doing a tremendous job in complying with the guidelines, and asked that we continue to be smart and responsible.
The government will be distributing free masks on St. John next week. We will keep you posted as information is released about the mask distribution date and location.
Rumors have been circulating on social media over the last few days about a governmental closure of restaurants and beaches in our community. The Government House issued a statement in response, stating that “Neither Governor Albert Byran Jr., Government House nor the administration’s COVID-19 Task Force have made any official announcements concerning beach closures, added restrictions to restaurants’ current operations or further restrictions on gatherings at funerals or other events in the territory.” The statement also noted that future action may be taken depending upon the outcome of the data compiled over the coming days.
Additional information will be released at the Governor’s press conference on Monday, August 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm. We will post our summary shortly thereafter, and will keep you posted about any new developments.
According to Governor Bryan, the regulations we have put into place regarding our efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 continue to appear to be working, as our active number of cases in the territory has decreased from last week. There are currently five active cases on St. John at this time, and no new cases this week.
The Governor assured our local residents that he is listening to their comments and concerns about tourism, and said that our governmental agencies are working as hard as possible to ensure that we have the resources needed to protect all of our entry points in an effort to keep our residents and guests as safe as possible. We have requested additional testing supplies – especially for St. John – and recently added four testing machines that produce same-day results in the territory.
The US Virgin Islands launched an online travel portal in an effort to increase the safety of residents and visitors, and to clarify the screening process for travelers. This portal will allow travelers to upload their COVID-19 test results to expedite the screening process at the airport, and to increase the efficiency of the policy.
Effective July 24, 2020:
- Any traveler aged 15 and older whose home state (state of residence) has a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) positivity rate greater than 10 percent will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 antigen (molecular/PCR/rapid) test result received within five days prior to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands OR a positive COVID-19 antibody test result received within four months prior to travel to the territory. Currently, residents of Puerto Rico are also subject to this requirement.
- COVID-19 test results are also required from travelers aged 15 and older who have spent more than seven days in and are traveling from a state with a positivity rate greater than 10 percent.
- COVID-19 test are recommended, but not required for travelers aged 15 and older whose home states have positivity rates greater than 7.5 percent. This is to ensure travelers are prepared for possible “spikes” in rates while preparing for travel.
- COVID-19 test result are not required from travelers transiting impacted states en route to the USVI.