Changes to COVID-19 Testing Requirements and Boat Charter Mask Mandates

Changes to COVID-19 Testing Requirements and Boat Charter Mask Mandates

I’m sure you’ve all been actively watching the COVID-19 statistics on St. John and wondering what it means for your travel plans.  Governor Albert Bryan Jr. shared some insight today at the weekly press conference that will hopefully answer some of your questions!

While the number of active cases remained surprisingly low on St. John during the first seven months of COVID while the rest of the United States watched their numbers skyrocket, this past week we’ve seen our own uncharacteristic increase in our number of positive cases.  While 31 cases sounds like a substantial number on a tiny island of approximately 3,000 residents, our current positivity rate on St. John is still well below the rest of the US, thus far affecting only 1% of our population.

However, given that our numbers increased substantially in such a short amount of time, the VI Government is implementing some new orders in an effort to curtail this trend.

The USVI testing requirements have evolved over the last nine months, and according to the Governor will be changing yet again:

In the next few weeks, the St. Thomas airport will be instituting a 100% testing policy for all travelers – including guests, and residents returning home.  If you arrive at the St. Thomas or St. Croix Airport without test results that meet the current USVI guidelines, you will either need to be tested at the airport and pay the associated fee with the test (the amount of which has not yet been disclosed), or pay a sizable fee (amount also not disclosed, but it will be more than what the test will cost), and must quarantine for 14 days. 

It has been estimated that approximately 20-25% of all persons infected with the virus are asymptomatic, and completely unaware that they are COVID-19 positive.  This makes testing all incoming passengers even more critical for our territory.

The Governor also implores our guests to comply with the USVI mask mandate while on island.  Masks must be worn at all times while inside public buildings, and in all public outdoor spaces when social distancing is not possible.  Our restaurant staff asks that you wear your mask while entering the restaurant and leave them on until you’ve placed your order and received your beverage or food. Masks are not required at the beaches unless you are unable to socially distance.

Additionally this past week, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) refined their rules for charter yachts, and the USVI Government issued an order reflecting these new mandates:

Advisory to all charter yachts:

  • If charter crew and passengers are not from the same household or family, masking shall be required at all times that 2 or more persons are within 6 feet of each other.
  • Where possible, passengers and crew shall exercise social distancing of remaining 6 feet or more apart.
  • Charter yacht passengers, if from the same household or family, are not required to wear masks.
  • Charter yacht captain/crew must wear masks except when engaged in watersports, swimming, eating, or drinking.
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG) inspected charter yachts must carry half capacity, and must comply with mask wearing regulations (indicated above).
  • USCG un-inspected day charter yachts with two (2) or more passengers not of the same household or family must comply with mask wearing regulations (indicated above).
  • Private yachts and liveaboards are to be excluded.

No other changes in protocol were outlined today, nor was there any indication that the territory will be facing another shut-down as long as we all work together to keep our numbers down.  So let’s all do what we can to comply, so that we can keep our residents and guests safe, and keep our doors open for a happy and healthy holiday season!

5 thoughts on “Changes to COVID-19 Testing Requirements and Boat Charter Mask Mandates”

  1. We are hopeful that we will come to St John in late February and are worried about medical facilities on St. John as we know that the closest hospital is in St Thomas. If anyone in our party shows symptoms of COVID what are our options for medical attention? Thanks.

    • If someone has symptoms it doesn’t necessarily mean they will need medical attention. Depending on the symptoms, if typical (cough, fever, headache) these can be treated with over the counter meds. I’ve been to St. John twice this year and I brought cough medicine (musinex dm) and extra strength Tylenol with me just incase which is what most doctors recommend to treat those type of symptoms . I can’t speak for what you should do if the symptoms get really bad and further medical assistance is needed but wanted to suggest you bring some over the counter stuff with you as a precaution .

  2. So if I understand this correctly, one can waive the test (for the larger fee) and agree to be quarantined 14 days. Of course, they need to take a van/taxi to Red Hook, then the ferry to STJ and walk around Cruz Bay until they get a rental or taxi to their accommodations where they will quarantine for 14 days? How does that make sense and how is it possibly being enforced?
    I am not trying to be argumentative about it but this procedure doesn’t seem to help the USVI. Unless they intend to quarantine people in a dedicate location near the airport, either you come in negative or get back on the plane.

  3. That makes no sense either. We just travelled to the USVI and didn’t have to show our test until we arrived. Also makes no sense because if your positive you just exposed everyone on the plane. People flying to St Martin had to show negative result to get in the plane. This makes sense. You shouldn’t be allowed on a flight without proof first. We took every precaution and still my children were positive when we arrived home from the trip. Did they get on the ferry? The airport? In St Thomas ? Would have preferred if it was there we would have known and at least would have had to stay to quarantine.

  4. Is there a requirement to be tested before you fly out of STT back to the US? (I realize some states have their own requirements when you land, but was wondering if the STT airport requires anything before you check in for your plane home)

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