Hello all! And Happy Fri-YAY! After I posted about the BVI on Wednesday, a ton of you wrote in and commented about the status of travel protocol for the USVI. And, on that front, not much has changed. But, here’s a refresher and update for all of you lucky ones out there who have upcoming trips to St. John on the horizon 🙂
Trust me when I say, we are ALL tired of the COVID things. The mask wearing, the regular testing, the constant back and forth of the science and protocols and regulations. All of it. Unfortunately, they are still necessary. As a friend put it to me when I contracted COVID-19, forcing myself and a few close friends to quarantine, “This is just the world we are living in.” And, unfortunately, that’s true. COVID is no fun, but it’s also no joke. And, policies in the USVI remain steadfast in order to continue to protect the community and the weight of the virus upon our more than normally fragile healthcare system.
Currently, the positivity rate is at 4.39% in the USVI, which is high for us, and only just this week did our small hospitals on both St. Croix and St. Thomas get a little reprieve from COVID-19 patients taking up the majority of the beds. The territory is still a long way off from accomplishing the goal number of vaccinated community members. So, with all of that being said, unfortunately, I don’t see a whole lot of adjustments to the restrictions and protocols that have been in place any time soon.
The mask mandate is still in place. It never left. I know a lot of different states have lifted them over the past few months, but they seem to be slowly rolling mandates of one sort or another out again as winter drives diners inside and higher positivity rates settle in and hospitals remain full.
As of August 30, in the state of Illinois, anyone aged two or older are required to wear a mask in indoor public settings once again, regardless of vaccination status. In Louisiana, individuals ages five and older must wear a mask in public indoor settings. The list goes on, but for a full review of restrictions by state, check in here.
I guess, my point is that masks are slowly starting to come back in a lot of places and I would rather be wearing a mask on St. John than, say, Kansas? (No offense to all you readers from Kansas, but you get my comparison?) 🙂
So, the mask mandate in the USVI as it remains is that all individuals (five and up) must mask up in ALL public spaces including, but not limited to:
- Dining or drinking establishments unless you are seated at your table.
- Public Transportation- Ferries, planes, taxis and all air and sea port terminals.
- Outdoor shopping areas- Yes, that’s right, Mask up at Mongoose!
- Beaches and Trails- In all areas where social distancing is not possible, at bathrooms and while patronizing the concessions.
- In town- I mean, I don’t think anyone is going to hassle you while you are sitting on a bench in the park, but do mask up in congested areas, when approaching a driver or street vendor, etc.
All of that being said, there additionally haven’t been any changes to the travel testing protocol over the past six weeks since I last updated you. The notable changes in August was that antibody tests would no longer be accepted and that individuals vaccinated IN THE USVI would no longer be required to furnish a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling. That being said, there are now two categories for arrival protocol in the USVI.
Travelers who were vaccinated in the USVI.
If you have been FULLY vaccinated in the US Virgin Islands, you can apply for exemption from travel testing by registering their USVI administered vaccine card with the PolarisKey Digital Vax Pass. Once it has been approved, this can be used with the USVI Travel Portal in lieu of the negative COVID-19 test in order to gain access to the green QR approval code.
- Step One- Register Vax Card with PolarisKey
- Step Two- Apply for travel authorization within 3-5 days of travel to the USVI in the Travel Portal
- Step Three- Receive green QR code as approval for travel.
Travelers not vaccinated in the USVI.
If you are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated OR fully vaccinated outside of the US Virgin Islands you still need a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the territory. Every traveler, falling under these categories, aged five and older will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 Molecular (PCR) or Antigen (Rapid) test administered within five days of commencement of travel. The test results must be uploaded to the USVI Travel Portal and a green QR code of approval must be awarded in order for travel to be approved.
- Step One- Take your COVID-19 test
- Step Two- Upload results to the travel portal outside of 48 hours of your departure if possible.
- Step Three- Receive green QR code as approval for travel.
I understand your frame of thinking when you ask why vaccines from elsewhere won’t work in lieu of a negative test. But, I also understand why the Government here has chosen that route initially. They have the records of vaccinations in the USVI so there is a way to check those. With vaccination cards so incredibly easy to duplicate, they HAVE to be able to cross check the records for validation. It is my guess, that until there is a national database to pull information from, this is the way it will be. It is unfortunate, but it is also necessary. And, I’m living proof that you CAN pick up the virus and transmit it even if you’re fully vaccinated. So, is that requirement for travel alone really enough to stop the spread?
We are traveling back to retrieve Asante from the boat yard in Grenada at the beginning of October. Currently, their requirements are proof of vaccination, a pre-travel PCR test ($150 USD), an arrival test ($150USD) and quarantine upon arrival in an approved accommodation ($200USD/night) until the test results are returned. Additionally, we have to receive approvals to board the twice a week ferry to Carriacou, the small island where the boat yard is. It gets very expensive very quickly (Good thing the food there is cheap, HA!). And, I’m not complaining. Just pointing out that it is WAY easier to get into the USVI than it is many places right now. One test and wearing a mask isn’t so bad when you exchange them for a week on St. John, right? 🙂
You do not need to test in order to return to the states from the US Virgin Islands unless your final destination state requires it. Again, please check the list of requirements by state in order to check to see what your return will require.
If you have previously had COVID-19 and have been medically cleared from quarantine or isolation but are still testing positive, please email [email protected] for further instructions. You will likely need a medical clearance letter from your healthcare provider as well as your previously positive test as proof of date range and recovery.
Oh, and one other question that keeps popping up that I would like to address. You do not need a COVID-19 test in order to travel between St. Thomas, St. John, Water Island and St. Croix. Once you have been cleared for travel into the territory, you can move around within the USVI as you please by boat or plane 🙂 You DO however need to follow territory by territory protocols and testing requirements when traveling between the USVI, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands.
So, as many states and countries continue to tighten down on their restrictions as numbers rise, the USVI is still here. We are still open and moving forward into another hopefully busy season with the same regulations that have been in place for the past year. The beaches are open and ready for you to come and enjoy! And our hard working island staffers are returning to work after some time off with fresh smiles and stories to share with you. Have a great weekend everyone! And stay safe out there 🙂