Good Morning, Good Morning! Yesterday afternoon, Governor Bryan made some announcements about some restrictions for bars & restaurants and COVID-19 travel testing changes that you need to be aware of if you are traveling into the territory over the next 30 days. We ALL have COVID fatigue. I totally get it. But, in the past week the territory has gone from a 1.6% positivity rate to 11.6%. And, although Omicron is seemingly not as hazardous as the previous strains we have dealt with (hospitalizations in the territory remain low!), it is still spreading like wildfire and the USVI, as of yesterday’s announcement, is at the highest number of positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Now, don’t freak out! Don’t cancel or rearrange your travel plans. The territory is still, as a whole, only at about 550 cases (8 on St. John).
However, with the amount of incoming traffic we will see over the holiday and the busy weeks to come and the pesky Omicron strain seems to be a bit more contagious than previous ones, the Governor is imposing some new policies. The travel testing for travel change is the big one for all of you out there to pay attention to:
Beginning January 3, and for at least 30 days thereafter, everyone traveling into the territory will need to test within 72 hours (3 days) of travel. This new testing policy also includes individuals who have been vaccinated in the USVI.
I will be doing some research over the next few days to find out what some of the hospitality companies here are doing in regards to last minute reservation changes or cancellations due to a positive COVID test prior to departure and will try to update all of you on that by Monday when these changes go into effect. As a precaution, give a call to your lodging and activities vendors and your airline to find out what the case will be if you or one of your companions do test positive prior to traveling. In the meantime, I would advise anyone traveling to the territory to lie low and mask up when in public a week or so prior to your travels.
Governor Bryan touted the phrase “Home for the Holidays” throughout his speech in a literal way. If you are able to stay healthy, you are able to board your flight. Even though this new strain is only presenting as cold-like symptoms, for the most part, it still could prevent you from taking your trip! So, stay safe & stay healthy so you can get down here to enjoy your Love City Vacation! Regardless of the hassle of the new testing window, no one wants to spend their time on St. John feeling like crap or caring for a sick loved one, right? 🙂
For updated travel protocols and to register yourself and your companions for travel into the territory, please visit the USVI Travel Portal.
An additional restriction that was previously in place and is being resurrected is the curfew on bars and restaurants. As of yesterday, December 29, we are back to an 11PM curfew on alcohol sales until at least January 10, 2022.
So, last call at bars and restaurants is at 11PM and they must be closed at midnight. The Governor DID make an exception to the New Year’s holiday however…
…So we can ring in the new year together at your establishment of choice! He did mention that any establishment in non-compliance of these orders could be shut down for as long as 30 DAYS! So, please keep that in mind as you are having night caps and the bar tender is rushing you out the door at midnight. They are simply doing their job and no one wants to be unemployed for a month during the busiest time of the year!
There was no mention of changes to live music, bar seating, etc., so that should all remain pretty normal in regards to where we have been for the past six months or so. Dancing is allowed as we ring in the new year. However, if you are standing up, or dancing, even at your table, in any establishment, a mask is required. The territory wide mask mandate is as it has been since the beginning. If you are in a public space (offices, shops, restaurants, public transportation, high traffic areas, etc.) please put your mask on. The exception to this rule is on the beaches, on the trails and when you are seated at a restaurant or bar.
That’s my little recap on yesterday’s news for today. Please, please, please, don’t be discouraged. As always, Governor Bryan and his team are fighting like hell to keep the USVI open, healthy and prosperous. When the Delta variant hit Grenada, there was a strict lockdown! A 5PM curfew went into effect immediately as well as no movement on weekends. From 5PM on Friday to 5AM on Monday, you couldn’t leave the house! When the first COVID waves settled into the USVI in March of 2020, no one was allowed to come here at all. And, the BVI is still touting hefty travel regulations that make it difficult to get there. These simple restrictions don’t seem so bad in comparison! So, stay safe and healthy out there everyone. And we look forward to seeing you all very soon!