It’s Fri-YAY! I hope everyone is gearing up for a fun summertime weekend 🙂 There have been some big things evolving on the COVID-19 front in both the US and British Virgin Islands over the past week. And today I wanted to take a moment to update you on those happenings.
First thing’s first…The long awaited announcement about vaccinated travel to the USVI is on the horizon line. At last!
The USVI rolled out the PolarisKey digital vax pass on July 2 which allows users to voluntarily upload their vaccination records. USVI Health Commissioner and Chief Public Health Officer Justa E. Encarnacion, said that individuals who have RECEIVED their vaccinations in the USVI may upload the records to the portal that will eventually be linked to the USVI Travel Portal.
She said that very soon, individuals who have received their vaccination within the territory will be able to travel into the USVI using the digital vax pass within the travel portal.
Now, it remains unclear as to whether or not individuals with vaccine records outside of the territory will immediately be granted access to travel using the vax pass. But, if you received your vaccination in the states, you CAN upload your records in preparation for upcoming travel. But, I would recommend still planning to test prior to travel or get an antibody test (good for up to four months) if you have a trip to the USVI on the horizon line.
Here is the excerpt from the FAQ page of the vax pass:
10. Can I request a PolarisKey if I am not a USVI resident? Will I be issued a PolarisKey if I was vaccinated in a jurisdiction outside USVI?
You do not have to be a USVI resident to request your PolarisKey. As a global Vaccination Credentialing Initiative (VCI) partner, we also accept SMART Health Cards issued by states and provinces like California and Quebec as verification of your vaccination record to issue you your PolarisKey. If you are a USVI resident and received your immunizations outside of the territory, you may also upload your record
She also said that there is a growing network of local organizations that are registered with the passport. Businesses and organizations in the territory may join the network in order to be able to check for vaccination records as the USVI moves to safely reopen businesses for events. I would imagine that this will eventually have something to do with a mask exception as well. When the CDC rolled out their guidance about vaccinated individuals and mask wearing, Governor Bryan responded by saying that he appreciated the guidance but would continue with the mask mandate for a lack of being able to validate the vaccination records. Well, the PolarisKey digital vaccination records will do just that for businesses registered within the network. So, if you have an upcoming trip and you are vaccinated, get the pass!
But, DO still plan to provide one of the following documents for travel into the territory until further notice:
- 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.
We are in the home stretch now gang! I’ll update you on the travel allowances next week once the portal and passport are linked up!
If you are a business owner in the USVI, please go here and register your business with PolarisKey and join the network.
Currently, in the USVI there are only 72 active COVID-19 cases with only one active case currently on St. John. But, unfortunately, our friends and loved ones on our sister islands are not faring as well in the fight against COVID-19.
The British Virgin Islands are experiencing a GIANT surge in positive cases despite their best efforts to keep the virus out of their territory with a very fragile healthcare infrastructure. To date, the BVI have only had 793 TOTAL COVID-19 positive test results in the entire territory. As of July 5, there were 480 ACTIVE cases reported in the territory!!! That is more than half of their overall number. It is absolutely crazy.
I won’t get into the breakdown of blame game about where it came from, but I will say that the community transmission rate is rapidly accelerating. Those who tested positive includes some visitors, yes, but it also includes “a number of persons at some of their resident and treatment facilities,” according to a statement from Premier Fahie.
In response to the frightening and rapidly growing positive case rate, the Government of the BVI has imposed a curfew of 11PM-5AM that began on Tuesday, July 6 for a period of now less than 14 days. In addition to this declaration, a few other noteworthy mandates with the same date and time stamp have been put into effect that might be worth paying attention to if you plan to travel to the BVI.
- Hairdressers, barbers, gyms, bars, clubs and entertainment establishments are currently closed.
- In-house dining is limited to one person for every 36 feet. (Right, what??)
- Voluntary stay at home order is currently in effect.
- Beginning July 12, all vaccinated persons will be subject to a rapid test upon arrival for an additional fee of $50.
My thoughts are with our island family in the British Virgin Islands right now. That is an extremely frightening number of positive cases for a population so small. And, they had just re-opened, giving businesses a boom and a chance to bounce back. Hopefully with these restrictions in place, we will see a gradual decline in those numbers as opposed to a rapid uptick.
That’s all for today folks. Follow along for more travel updates as we continue to navigate through the ever changing COVID-19 waters. I hope that you all have a STUPENDOUS weekend!