Good Morning! The Governor updated the Territory yesterday afternoon and is making some upcoming changes to COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and taxi cab capacity limitations. Additionally, I’ll be inserting a brief update here today about the latest push back on the opening of BVI seaports.
The Governor has continued to host his weekly press conferences, updating residents on pop-up testing sites, vaccination distribution and information on plans to vaccinate 50,000 VI residents in the coming months. The ambitious vaccination plan and testing allowances have moved the territory into a seemingly safer place over the past few months. With the number of positive cases hovering around 100 on average for the entire territory and the transition into Phase Three of the vaccination distribution, we are hopefully moving into a place where these updates should continue the trend to loosening restrictions. As of March 1, Phase Three of the vaccination rollout allows for anyone over the age of 16 to receive a vaccine.
Before I get into the good news, I want to gently remind anyone who is vacationing here in the coming months that a territory wide mask mandate is still in place! Social distancing is still required. As is the proof of a negative COVID-19 test before getting on a plane to St. Thomas or St. Croix. Read the latest update on travel tips during COVID-19 and this crazy busy state the Territory is in if you have any further questions about current restrictions.
Now, for the good news! Yesterday, Governor Bryan loosened the following restrictions in regards to restaurant and taxi capacity rules and added an extra hour at the beach!
As of March 8, 2020, restaurants may move from 50% capacity to 75% capacity. This is HUGE for the small business owners of St. John! I cannot tell you how many people are being turned away each night. Many restaurants are fully booked as early as 4PM each night! There is also no limit to party size as of next Monday! Current restrictions require parties to be at six or less when seated at a restaurant. As of Monday, there will be no limit to number of people at a table based on the Government’s requirements.
Effective immediately,taxis are permitted to transport 75% of their capacity, up from the past restriction of 50%. Large groups who are traveling together or of the same household may also remain together when requiring transport by taxi.
As the sun sets a bit later in the day, beaches will now remain open for an extra hour! Beaches have been closed starting at 4PM for the majority of the past year. Starting this week, beaches will not close until 5PM.
Another exciting update is that the public schools are re-opening for in-person learning starting today! St. Croix leads the path of in-person learning beginning today, March 2 with half day classes in order to promote social distancing. Hopefully the St. Thomas and St. John districts won’t be too far behind.
This is ALL great news and a positive transition in the right direction. The Governor ensured more loosening on current restrictions as a more of the population of the USVI receives the vaccine. Currently, over 14,000 Virgin Islanders have been vaccinated.
Now, a bit of an update from our sister islands, the British Virgin Islands.
The re-opening of the Tortola ferry terminal to International guests has been delayed multiple times this winter. At first, the sea port was to re-open on December 8, just one week after the re-opening of the Beef Island Airport to international guests. Almost immediately, the BVI Port Authority released the news that the date would be pushed back to January 21, and then later to March 1. The March re-opening date has come and gone without the re-opening of the ferry terminal in Tortola.
Last week, the BVI Port Authority announced that the terminal would again be delayed in opening to the arrival of international arrivals. The new date is set for April 15, 2021 for the port to open to ferries arriving from outside of the territory. There has still been no update on the opening of sea ports in the BVI to private international vessels.
But, that isn’t stopping people from having a great time on the water in the USVI! Don’t hesitate to book a boat while you’re here visiting just because the BVI is closed. We, personally, have been busy with charters on Sailing Asante and our guests have been absolutely thrilled with the snorkel stops, Pizza Pi and Lovango Resort lunch stops and spectacular sunsets! A friend put together and great listing of boats available for day charters in the USVI to help you select the boat that is best for your group! We also have some deals listed for discounted charters at StJohn.Deals.