Good Afternoon! I hope that you all had a great weekend and are getting into this work week bursting with positivity and productivity! I did not get a post up earlier this morning because I thought there might be a decent amount to update after Governor Bryan’s press conference this afternoon. Unfortunately, there aren’t many changes to report on, but it sound like, with additional guidance in the future from the CDC, there could be on the horizon!
Last week, the CDC updated its guidance in regards to mask wearing for fully vaccinated individuals to read as follows:
“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
Since the beginning of this whole fiasco, Governor Bryan and his team have been closely following, and adhering to, the guidance set forth by the CDC. And, while he affirms that many of his decisions may have been unpopular, they have been effective. The territory remains around a 1% positivity rate for COVID-19 as of the press conference today. To date, the USVI has lost only 27 residents to the world wide pandemic and currently has only 63 active cases territory wide. I assumed that, today, we would hear some changes to the territory wide mask mandate based on this recent guidance from the CDC.
But, we did not. Governor Bryan sited this afternoon that even though the CDC guidance lends a relief in mask wearing to the vaccinated public, there is no way for the government or small businesses to legally address those who are vaccinated versus those who are not.
It definitely would not be “fair,” if you will, to lift the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals and then leave it up to businesses and law enforcement to “police” vaccination cards in order to verify who can be without a mask and who should be wearing one. The grey areas on this new “guidance” leave much to be desired and even more to be questioned.
So,the mask mandate stands for now and reads as follows:
Additionally, there are no current changes to the testing requirements for travel into the territory, whether you are fully vaccinated or not. In order to travel into the USVI you must follow the guidelines as listed below:
All travelers to the USVI ages five and older, must upload the following to the USVI travel portal:
- A negative COVID-19 Molecular (PCR) or Antigen (Rapid) test administered within five days of commencement of travel.
- A positive COVID-19 Antibody test administered within four months of commencement of travel.
However, there is a bit of good news on the horizon for those of you who received your vaccination in the USVI. There is technology underway for a “vaccination passport” app that will allow you to register your vaccination and travel freely into and around the territory…Eventually, I would guess, that this same passport will be utilized as a type of access pass for large events and gatherings in the territory eventually as well.
Last month, the division of festivals hosted a “1 Night. 1 Fete.” in conjunction with what would have been St. Thomas’ annual Carnival. The event was only for two hundred vaccinated individuals and held a ticket price of $75 per person. In order to purchase tickets for the event, residents and visitors were required to show proof of being fully vaccinated.
“We hope that people are encouraged to take the vaccine so that we can safely resume and enjoy in-person gatherings,” said Ian Turnbull, Director of the Division of Festivals.
It is my hope that St. John will endure similar restrictions in order to have SOME kind of Carnival celebration at the end of next month….A highly anticipated annual Love City gathering which was, like most other things, cancelled in 2020.
The state of New York has a similar application in place that is currently being used for entry into events as a way to display test results and proof of vaccination. As performance arts and sporting events start to get back to full swing again, the state is using the “Excelsior Pass” as a way to clear attendees into venues with restrictions based on vaccination status and proof of negative COVID test results.
Again, I am sorry that I don’t have more current changes to update you on today. However, I would like to say that things have been GREAT here on St. John. Mask mandates and travel restrictions aside, the island remains busy through what would, in a typical year, be a very slow month. And, although everyone could use a little break from the action, it is great to see businesses and individuals fiscally rebounding from both the 2017 storms AND the shut downs of 2020.
If you are visiting now, or over the summer, keep this in mind, and be kind to the staff when frequenting your favorite St. John businesses and watering holes. This time of year, everyone has been getting clobbered with business since November and they are TIRED. Seasonal employees are on their way out, leaving the year round residents to man the helm of a predictably busy summer season…Vacation? Off Season? What’s that? Ha!
Just remember, a little kindness goes a long way for someone who is rounding out a 60 hour work week 🙂