Good Afternoon everyone. I have some good, and some not so good, news from the Government House of the Virgin Islands today.
First of all, just like most other places in the country, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the territory is climbing. Thanksgiving gatherings, a busy few months of visitors and residents moving in and out of the territory and some lax enforcement of these mandates at private events combined to drive the territory from a 7% positivity rate last week, to 9% this week despite the government’s application and enforcement of mask and social distancing mandates and airport screenings. St. John currently has 36 active cases.
The good news, the Governor said, is that the territory is receiving its first rounds of the Pfizer vaccination (975 doses) this week and the Moderna vaccination next week. The territory will continue to receive the vaccinations for distribution to its residents. Clinical care workers, first responders, those with immune compromised systems and residents in the senior community will be among the first recipients.
Due to community speculation about the efficacy and side effects of the vaccination, Governor Bryan will receive his vaccination publicly, he announced today.
The Governor then reiterated that people are refusing to comply with the universal mask mandate, social distancing regulations and advisement against gatherings in the territory. He said that he and other government officials have been receiving photograph and video submissions from community members in regards to these violations.
The concentration of on island activity and Thanksgiving travel and gatherings by residents and visitors alike have resulted in a rise in cases territory wide. Because of this, the USVI COVID-19 task force is currently reviewing the possibility of a curfew. Currently there is no curfew but bars, restaurants and other businesses must close by 11PM.
“I am perhaps the one person who is standing between you and a curfew in the territory,” said Governor Bryan after referencing the curfews in place on our sister islands in Puerto Rico and the BVI.
He then went on to tell us the not so good news….
Effective at 5PM on December 17, nightclubs will be closed. The closure will likely remain in effect through the holiday season.
Effective on Christmas Day for a period no less than two weeks, bars will be closed in the USVI. So, from December 25 until at least January 8, bars will be closed.
It STILL remains unclear as to how the government is classifying the differentiation between the two of these and restaurants. If you have any information on where that is written, please let me know. Keri and I have both searched…for months.
UPDATE 12/15/2020 ::: I spoke with our lovely island administrator, Shikima Jones-Sprauve, last night about the differentiation of these businesses. Basically, nightclubs and bars do not serve food. And restaurants, classified as “Taverns” in VI licensing do. She assured me that St. John wouldn’t see too many closures over this period based on the fact that the majority of our establishments regularly offer some type of food option. We would like to gently remind everyone that, even in a dining establishment, bar seating and counter service are currently prohibited and everyone should be wearing a mask upon entry unless they are seated at their table.
My guess is food sales are required to remain open…But he did briefly mention that won’t work for the nightclubs this time around.
“The time for partying in bars and nightclubs is not now,” said Governor Bryan.
The governor announced the permissions granted to local law enforcement to delve out fines to individuals who are not complying with mask mandates. It is , he stressed, a universal order in the territory and its public spaces that any two people are not of the same household, they need to wear a mask. The fines could be as much as $1000 per individual.
If you would like to review the full press conference, the live video will be available shortly on the VI Government House Facebook page.