Good Morning All! Governor Bryan addressed the territory Tuesday afternoon from the Cannabis Summit in Denver, Colorado. He is currently visiting the Rocky Mountain State in exploration of the safest and most lucrative ways to transition the USVI into the legalization of recreational marijuana.
But, that is another story for another time. The GREAT news we that received from the Governor yesterday via Facebook Livestream was the announcement of the further loosening of restrictions for bars, restaurants, gatherings and events in the territory. AND…Dancing is once again allowed!
Since the early days of COVID protocols and regulations, there has been a running joke down here in regards to the no dancing clause written into some of the original Executive Order Regulations.
“There shall be no dancing by anyone, including staff, inside or outside the establishment.” – Public Health Order 2020-001& Executive Order Regulations
You’ve all seen the movie Footloose, correct? With Kevin Bacon? Well, referencing this cult classic film and the no dancing rules in the territory for the past year and a half has become a way for us to make light of grieving the loss of one of our favorite past times. We are a DANCING community. Carnival, live music, DJ’s, traditional dances of the Virgin Islanders…It is all a way that we celebrate life!
Well, no longer will our dancing shoes sit on the stoop collecting dust. The Governor released the ban on dancing yesterday in his announcement, removing restrictions on dancing in establishments. He followed in saying that masks would still be required of all patrons participating in this coveted past time and that social distancing should be observed. Mask or no mask, I’m excited to get back out there and boogie 🙂
Oh, and we will have longer hours to do all of this dancing! Effective Friday, Oct. 29 at 5:00PM, the 11PM moratorium on the sale of alcohol will be lifted and the 12AM closing time for bars, nightclubs and restaurants will be no more. Establishments will be allowed to remain open and serve alcohol until the closure time indicated on their business licenses. This is especially exciting for all of you night owls out there looking for something to do after dinner. Now, you can, literally, dance the night away once again.
I want to take a second to make you a bit aware that some of your favorite late night establishments MAY not jump right into extending their hours. Many places on St. John are still pretty short staffed and may need a bit of time to get their scheduling and staffing together to extend their hours. However, this is all good news and more steps in the direction of a bit more normalcy in the USVI.
Additionally, Governor Bryan announced that he would be easing restrictions on events and large gatherings. Previously, the rule has been that no more than 100 people could gather. He raised that capacity to 250 yesterday, but not without some restrictions. For these larger events, ALL attendees must be vaccinated and the establishment must get previous permission from the Department of Health in order to host the event. If the event will be a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated attendees, the cap is still 100.
“The organizers must get a green light from the Department of Health and the Commissioner can authorize larger engagements at her discretion,” he said.
The above restrictions will be lifted on Friday, October 29 at 5PM.
All of the eases on restrictions in the Territory come as response to the drop in positive COVID-19 cases in the USVI. Currently, St. John has ZERO active cases (happy dance…because I can!), St. Thomas has 16 and St. Croix has 67. This brings the USVI to less than 100 cases overall and a 1.67% seven day positivity rate. Bravo!
“I am really encouraged to see our number of active cases come down to less than 100 territory wide,” said the Governor. “We are adjusting to our new normal and a reduction in active cases in the Territory and we are in a good position.”
The Governor said that he is imposing these changes now so that we can see how things go before the upcoming holidays brings the annual influx of visitor traffic. He warned that we still have a territory wide mask mandate in effect and that if there is another new surge in cases in the near future, they will likely revisit the policies.
“These restrictions can easily be reimposed if we see the behavior that is contributing to our surges,” said the Governor.
He closed this portion of the video conference in stating that the Government would be pushing to get the kiddos back to in person learning by the first of the year, or possibly earlier, if all goes well.
Lastly, in the Q&A portion of the a reporter asked if the Polaris Key Digital Vax pass had been opened up to visitors who received their vaccinations outside of the USVI.
“It has not,” he replied. “I really have my mixed feelings on that.”
He said that it has been an ongoing discussion but he does not feel that the testing protocols will be lifted for visitors to the territory any time soon. His preference would be to also require residents to test, but recognizes the strain it puts on the community as they commute to the states to visit family, for work or medical reasons. So, for now, unless you received your vaccination in the USVI, you will need to continue to test within five days of commencement of travel and submit your results to the USVI Travel Portal for the Green QR code of approval.
That’s all for today folks! I hope to see you all down here, dancing in the sand, very soon 🙂