COVID Testing for Travel 101

COVID Testing for Travel 101 2

Hi all! I hope this beautiful Tuesday finds you well! I know there has been a lot of COVID related info on the site lately, but we have recently received a ton of messages in regards to testing. So, I hope to get all of the information to you here so we can get back to some more fun things tomorrow 🙂

Testing is not ONLY required for arrival anymore. The State of New York is now requiring it for incoming flights and we may see more of that with stateside airports as the number of cases continues to rise. So, in getting out ahead of that…Here’s everything you need to know about COVID testing. For both arriving AND departing guests.

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Covid-19 Restrictions Ease in the USVI; Virus Vaccination Update

Covid-19 Restrictions Ease in the USVI; Virus Vaccination Update 3

It has been nine months since the US Virgin Islands first took an active role in our response to the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic.  After temporarily halting many of our services and shutting down the island for incoming guests in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus and to keep our residents and guests safe, the USVI Government and Covid-19 Task Force implemented a gradual, multi-phased approach for our re-opening in a safe and practical way.

At today’s weekly press conference, Richard Motta Jr., the Governor’s Director of Communications reminded us that effective today, we take another step forward in our re-opening process – and bars (the establishment itself, to be distinguished from the counters at the bars) and nightclubs are allowed to re-open today subject to a few restrictions:

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The Science Behind Air Travel and COVID-19

The Science Behind Air Travel and COVID-19 5

The US Virgin Islands is quickly approaching what is traditionally considered the beginning of our busy season.  This year, however, has been a strange one due to periodic island closures. From the traffic on island recently, it seems that many guests rescheduled their spring and summer plans to instead arrive on island in October and November.

Planes full of excited passengers have been arriving at our airports since the territory re-opened in mid-September.  And while our government has now made COVID testing mandatory for all guests and residents ages five and over before entering the USVI (or quarantine), the question on everyone’s mind is whether flying these days is really all that safe.  So what are the experts saying?

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Governor Bryan Provides Updates to COVID-19 Regulations

Governor Bryan Provides Updates to COVID-19 Regulations 6

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. returned today after a month-long absence from the weekly VI Government House Press Conferences to address the territory on some updates to COVID regulations.

He first thanked everyone for their continued compliance with COVID-related mandates.  He noted that while we work toward establishing a new way of life as we navigate this new world of COVID, we need to find a way to live with the virus.  Not just in a literal sense, but in a way that we can actually enjoy life instead of just ‘existing.’  The Governor agreed that social outlets are an important part of everyday life and assured us that the USVI COVID-19 Task Force is working full time to develop protocols to gradually allow us to start living more normally in this “new normal.”

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The Bar Is (Soon) Open!

The Bar Is (Soon) Open! 7

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. delivered several bits of optimistic news today.  In no particular order (although we are certain you will have your favorites):

COVID-19 statistics
Last week, we shared the fantastic news that our positivity rate was under 1% (you can read about that here), and although we have seen an increase in the number of guests arriving at our airports, our Covid positivity rate continues to remain under 1% for the second week in a row!

There are currently three active cases of COVID-19 on St. John, with only 16 total positive cases in the territory.  As such, Governor Bryan expressed his optimism about lifting some of the restrictions that have been in place for the past few months, and said we will see several changes in the 18th Executive Order issued this week, adding that “We are slowly getting there, but we can’t get there without your cooperation.”

The Bar Is (Soon) Open! 8

Hospitals and medical facilities
Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated our territory’s hospitals and medical facilities that were already in need of some TLC.  After receiving almost 13 million in grant funding for the repairs – and in some cases, entire rebuilds – our Governor announced that the designers have been selected for the various projects, and the design phase – estimated to take  6 to 18 months – will soon commence.  The Myrah Keating Medical Center on St. John was granted 1.5 million of the funds for the rebuild.

The Governor’s goal is to ensure that our residents and our visitors ultimately receive any and all medical care they may need while in the territory.

Several months ago, the Governor issued an order stating that all restaurants must suspend the use of regular dining ware, and only disposable glasses, plates, silverware, and napkins were allowed until further notice.  In August, the Department of Health relaxed this restriction for restaurants that could prove they were able to adequately sanitize their dining ware.  Over the following weeks, most of the restaurant owners and managers on St. John were granted a special use permit, allowing them an exception to the disposable mandate.

Today, the Governor announced that as of Wednesday, October 14, 2020, all restaurants are allowed to make the switch back to regular dining ware.  This is welcomed news for the restaurant owners and staff, the patrons, and the environment!

Churches and Houses of Worship
Effective immediately, churches and houses of worship are allowed to accommodate 50% of their capacity, or a maximum 100 persons, whichever is less.  This is an increase from the previous 50-person maximum mandate.

The Bar Is (Soon) Open! 9

Mass gatherings
Starting next month on November 9, 2020, mass gatherings will increase to 50% of the capacity, with no more than 100 persons for indoor and outdoor activities.

The Bar Is (Soon) Open! 10

(Note:  For these purposes, and for the sake of clarity, a bar is defined as the overall establishment, and not the bar counter).
Last but certainly not least, effective November 9, 2020, all bars and nightclubs with the capacity to offer table service will be allowed to reopen!  Previously, bars that did not serve food were ordered closed.  However, all of our bars are allowed to reopen as long as they can provide table service in lieu of counter service.  Per the Governor’s statement at the press conference, restaurant and bar guests must be seated at a table, served by wait staff, and must not be allowed to stand around the bar counter, order from the bar, or congregate around the bar or outside of the venue.  Seated patrons may order food, alcohol, or both, as long as they are seated at a designated table with adequate social distancing. Restaurants with bars are no longer mandated to sell and serve food simultaneously with alcoholic beverages.

The Bar Is (Soon) Open! 11

Live Music and DJs
The atmosphere at a bar is complete with the addition of live music.  When the bars reopen, live music and DJs will be allowed in licensed establishments until midnight.

The Bar Is (Soon) Open! 12

I think most would agree this is exciting news, and indicative of the progression to our ‘new normal’.  If we all continue to do our part, and if our Covid-19 positivity rate remains low, the Governor anticipates lifting more of our restrictions over the coming weeks!


USVI Covid Rates Plummet to the Lowest in the US

USVI Covid Rates Plummet to the Lowest in the US 14

Dr. Brett Ellis, US Virgin Islands Territorial Laboratory Director, shared some incredible statistics at today’s press conference regarding our Covid-19 numbers.  From the figures provided, it appears that the course of action taken by our Government has had the exact impact we have all worked so hard – and sacrificed so much – to achieve.  Not only have we met our goal of a 3 to 5 % positivity rate (the number of positive tests in relation to the total number of tests conducted in any given period), WE HAVE EXCEEDED OUR GOAL!

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