The USVI is closing its borders to visitors for a month

A view of Magens Bay in St. Thomas.
A view of Magens Bay in St. Thomas.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is closing its doors once again to leisure visitors, effective Aug. 19, for a period of at least one month, according to Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.

Bryan said on Aug. 13 that the territory will revert to the stay-at-home phase of its Covid-19 response for the next two weeks, at which time it will be re-evaluated.

As of Aug. 17, all nonessential business and churches are ordered to cease operations. The public, including nonessential public sector workers, are ordered to stay at home.

Effective immediately, hotels, villas, Airbnb accommodations, guest houses, temporary vacation housing, charter vessels and similar businesses are ordered not to accept or book new reservations for 30 days. As of Aug. 19, accommodations providers are barred from admitting or checking in any guests for 30 days, unless the order is lifted sooner.

Reservations may only be accepted for business travelers, flight crews, emergency personnel and government workers with written authorization from the government agency they are visiting.

Virgin Islanders in the territory and those abroad are encouraged to travel only for urgent matters to help limit the contagion into and out of the USVI. Beginning Aug. 17 through Aug. 31 unless lifted earlier, restaurants can offer only takeout, delivery or drive-through service. All bars, nightclubs and cabarets are to remain closed.

"When we announced our Covid-19 alert system in May, I indicated at that time that we would retreat to a more cautious state of alert if conditions warranted. Unfortunately, we have arrived at that point this week," Bryan said during a press conference on Aug. 13.

The USVI isn't the only Caribbean territory that has rolled back or changed plans as the Covid crisis drags on. The Bahamas closed its borders to Americans in late July, only to reopen them again just days later with strict quarantine rules in place. Puerto Rico, meanwhile, delayed the official reopening of the island to tourists.

As of Aug. 13, the USVI had 682 positive cases, 197 of which were active and 476 recovered. There have been nine deaths since the start of the pandemic.

"With the recent spike in cases, especially in the St. Thomas-St. John district, we must reset, take stock, safeguard human life and prepare to restart our tourism economy at a later date," said Joseph Boschulte, the commissioner of tourism.

People with tourism-related inquiries should email [email protected] or call the tourism department at (800) 372-8784.


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