Hello everyone, and happy Wednesday! We made it to the middle of the week! It’s been a bit since we’ve updated you on what’s happening around the island, so here’s a quick little update.
As of today, May 13th, there have been 69 positive COVID-19 tests in the US Virgin Islands. There were two on St. John back in March. Since then, there have not been any positive cases on the island. St. Thomas has had 38 confirmed cases, and St. Croix has had 29. There have been six COVID-related deaths in the US Virgin Islands. Three of those deaths were from the same family, which is absolutely tragic.
As of today, the US Virgin Islands plans to move to its “Open Doors” phase on June 1. At this time, accommodations will, once again, be able to accept new guests. (Currently hotels, villas, Airbnbs, etc. are unable to check in new guests. This began back on March 24.) This means that tourists can once again visit the island per the government beginning on June 1. Gatherings will be limited to 50 people at that time, which we believe will include all restaurants and bars. The move to the Open Doors phase on June 1 is subject to change. Should that happen, we will let you know immediately.
I’ve received numerous emails asking about restaurants and what specifically will be open. As of today, it appears that the majority (if not all) will be open on June 1 and moving forward. Numerous restaurants are open today and are offering to-go food. Beginning June 1, restaurants will be able to offer in-house dining once again. But again, it is likely that they will be limited to 50 people at a time and that includes staff.
Regarding our annual seasonal closings – many restaurants and bars close because of hurricane season which starts June 1 – it is too soon to know who will close and when. We just need to get through this first, and then businesses can make a decision on that.
The British Virgin Islands government announced that non-residents will not be able to visit their islands – Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Norman Island, Cooper Island and Virgin Gorda are all part of the British Virgin Islands – until sometime around September 1, 2020. This means that charter boats are not allowed to bring guests to the BVI until then.
I’ve been asked repeatedly how residents feel about visitors returning to the island. Truthfully, there are mixed feelings. On one hand, residents are ready to welcome visitors as our economy relies heavily on tourism and the island has been suffering financially due to COVID-19; And on the other hand, many people are extremely apprehensive about the idea of visitors returning and potentially, if not likely, bringing the virus with them. As of today, the majority of residents still have not received a stimulus check; the majority of residents have not received unemployment checks (although I do know some that received their first check this past Monday, so that’s progress!); and the majority of small business owners have yet to receive a PPP or SBA loan. So in that regard, people are looking forward to tourism resuming. But are people fearful that St. John will see an increase in COVID-19 cases once visitors return? Unequivocally, yes.
Now let’s talk flights. As with everywhere, flights to the airport on St. Thomas (STT) have been scaled back dramatically due to COVID-19. As of today, American Airlines looks like it will resume daily service from Miami on June 5. Currently they are flying here roughly 5-6 times a week. Delta does not appear to be resuming its daily service from Atlanta or New York until July 2 and July 3 respectively. United is also offering a flight between Newark and STT, and a flight between Washington DC on seven days in June. Spirit is flying its Ft. Lauderdale to St. Thomas route on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays only for the month of June. JetBlue has scaled its flights back too. So it may prove challenging initially to visit the island from a flight perspective should you choose to.
(These are examples and are subject to change.)
And with that, I think I will end this post right here. I will do my best to answer your questions in the Comments section or over on our Facebook page. Have a wonderful day everyone.
Have you entered our 2020 raffle? For just $20, you can enter to win a five-night stay at Aquamare at Grande Bay plus $1,000 courtesy of 340 Real Estate Co.! All proceeds will benefit the Animal Care Center. Get the details and buy tickets here: www.newsofstjohn.com/were-holding-another-raffle