Good Morning Everyone and a happy Wednesday to you! Despite having written about all of this information in posts along the way, I am seeing a TON of questions, both here and on my general Facebook feed in regards to the BVI seaports, COVID testing for entry and the new CDC International guidelines. The Governor will not be addressing us again until the 25th, so, in lieu of a regular weekly COVID update, I wanted to outline these three recent topics of pertinent information for you to have all in one little package 🙂
In the ever changing world of COVID-19, travel protocol is constantly ebbing and flowing with the rise and fall of case numbers and new scientific discoveries about the air borne virus. The USVI’s travel policies have been no exception to that trend. But, we have been holding steadfast with the following protocol for entry into the territory, with a small recent change, for several months now.
I DO want to briefly mention that the number of active cases in the entire territory are currently lower than they were just a few weeks ago. We are currently at 100 active cases in the territory with only seven on St. John. The free resident testing on STJ is today so that could change overnight, but I’m hopeful that these numbers will continue to hold below average. This is the most recent report that was released via VITEMA text last night.
Protocol for ENTERING the USVI from the United States:
- ALL persons, aged five and older, entering the territory from the US must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or Rapid Test) administered within 5 days of commencement of travel to the USVI. This applies to residents and visitors alike. With the following exception…
- OR you can provide a POSITIVE anti-bodies test administered within four months of arrival.
- The above applies to people arriving to the territory via plane OR marine vessel.
- Proof of vaccination will NOT be accepted. You still need a negative test or positive antibody test for the USVI Travel Portal.
- This is the change: As of January 18, 2021, ALL residents and visitors entering the territory from the US will be required to furnish one of the above documents in order to board their flight. The travel portal must be completed and the approval must be shown to the attendant prior to boarding your plane.
The New CDC Guidelines for International Travel
On January 26, 2021, the CDC will be implementing their new requirements for International travel. I cannot stress enough, as I have seen this question EVERYWHERE, that the re-entry requirements under this order DO NOT apply to the USVI. We are a territory and, therefore, part of the United States. At the bottom of page three of the official CDC order it clearly states:
- You do not need to provide a negative test within three days of travel from the USVI back to your home state, unless the state itself requires testing for re-entry. If you are unsure of what your state requires for travel, you can take a look at this NPR article to review a state by state list.
- If you are entering the USVI from a foreign country by air or by sea (yes, that includes the BVI) you must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of arrival to the territory. Just like the states.
Let me stress, we are not a state, we are a territory. But, to help you understand how this works, I’m going to pretend that we are because similar policies apply to us in this instance. The USVI, much like the state of New York, has its own entry testing requirements (see above). To leave the state of New York, or the USVI, and go to say Michigan, for example, you do not need to provide a test for entry. But, you would need one to return to wither of those places. So, check your state’s requirements for re-entry from a different state in order to fully understand the state-to-state protocol for going home from the USVI.
If you DO, need to test before returning home, please call the VI Department of Health at 340-776-1519 and/or refer to the resource below. FYI- the Department of Health has not been testing anyone without symptoms or direct contact with someone who has tested positive outside of the free pop-up testings which require proof of residency. You may need to go through a private provider for your test in order to get one within the allotted time frame. There is a rapid test facility on St. Thomas and I would also recommend Red Hook Family Practice for a quick turnaround on results.
When can we go to the BVI by boat?
The actual answer is I have no clue. The official answer from the BVI is that they are aiming to open the Road Town, Tortola ferry terminal on March 1 to INTERNATIONAL FERRY PASSENGERS. My assumptions are these:
- The same arrival testing and four day quarantine will apply—AKA, no day trips via ferry
- The terminal will only open to ferry traffic. There has been no mention of the allowance for private international vessels.
- They will be opening the ferry terminal in order to take some of the weight off of the airport for arrival testing and arrival protocol will remain the same. This way, people who fly into STT can ferry to the BVI for their stay rather than ALL of the traffic arriving via the Beef Island Airport (the territory’s only point of international arrivals to date).
If you fly into the BVI, you can board an approved vessel as your accommodation/quarantine. But US vessels may not enter the territory to pick up guests at present.
All of that being said, if you are visiting St. John this Winter or Spring, DO book your boat day! There are a ton of new spots to check out and I would like to give it up to local business owners and charter captains for making the best of the situation. The USVI waters are equally beautiful and, although we miss the BVI as well, there is still plenty of beauty and unique offerings to experience this year without the $75 per person customs fees! Take this year as one to try something new!
Please, please, please email [email protected] with any additional questions in regards to the above topics. I know this information is important to all of you with upcoming trips scheduled and I will do my best to make sure you have al of the relevant information for your visit!