The US Virgin Islands, including our very own island of St. Croix, is welcoming back visitors to the Territory. As of now, the Governor has issued the executive order detailing the phased reopening of non-essential businesses and the guidelines to which they will be subject. The transition will be managed according to a five-tiered system as follows:
Reopening St. Croix
The first phase of the territory’s reopening to tourism has begun with the Blue Phase, known as ‘Open Doors’, which includes the following restrictions:
- All restrictions against leisure travel are no longer in place. However, travelers coming from States that have a greater than 10% infection rate must come with a Covid negative test that was taken within 5 days of travel. Currently those States are: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas. This takes effect Wednesday, July 15th.
- Guidance has been developed for restaurants, bars, hotels, taxis, and safaris on how to conduct their businesses while protecting the public’s health
- Thermal scanners are being installed at the airports, and other measures are in place to track visitors and their health
- All patrons are required to wear a face mask when entering a business
- All gatherings of people require face masks (except children 2 and younger or those with acute respiratory ailments)
- Recreation facilities, such as gyms, tennis courts and golf courses may reopen as long as they maintain social distancing
- All contact sports, such as basketball, volleyball and football are prohibited – sports equipment must be properly sanitized and not shared
- Bowling alleys and movie theaters may reopen if they practice social distancing, but they may not sell food and drink or host parties
- Private offices may reopen, but all employees not critical to in-person services should be encouraged to work from home
- Government operations remain in their current hold pattern and all conditions for public interaction remain in place until further notice
- Private health care facilities may resume procedures if they follow required safety protocols
- Personal services, such as barbers, massage therapists and hair salons, may operate by appointment only and must employ strict hygiene guidelines and frequent sanitization procedures for all contact services and tools, including hand sanitizer for patrons and face masks for the entire time as possible
- For personal services businesses, no more than 5 customers will be allowed to wait at any given time and no more than 10 people, including employees, allowed in the establishment at a time
- Retail stores may not allow more than 10 individuals into the establishment at any time. The only exemptions are grocery stores and big box stores
- Visitation to nursing homes is limited
- Child care facilities still are closed
- All schools – public, private and parochial – remain closed.
- Churches may conduct services providing they don’t exceed a capacity of 50 individuals and all, including the pastor, wear face masks
- The social distancing requirement of at least 6 feet remains in place for general purposes between customers when not directly conducting service
- Employers should encourage frequent breaks to wash hands and employees showing any signs of illness should remain at home
- Employees should wear face masks when interacting with customers
- Limetree Bay Refinery: The Governor has put increased safety measures in place at the Limetree Bay refinery on St. Croix. Effective immediately, there is a temporary hold on incoming travel of new contractors into the Territory. The refinery also has instituted controls on the movement into and out of the man camp and trying to restrict as much as possible the people leaving and returning to the facility.
Visiting St. Croix Soon?
If you are planning a trip to St. Croix or the USVI soon, please read our Healthy Travel Practices blog for more information on what to expect here on St. Croix and how you can stay healthy while travelling.
Beginning Monday, July 13, residents of Arizona, Florida and Texas must present test results showing they are negative for COVID-19 or positive for COVID-19 antibodies upon their arrival into the Territory. Test should be taken within 72 hours of arriving in the U.S. Virgin Islands, or visitors can opt to take a test when they arrive. Individuals who do not show test results or take a test locally must go into a 14-day quarantine.
We are happy to report that restaurants and bars are now allowed to welcome dine-in guests, with strict safety protocols and restrictions in place.
- Restaurants can accommodate no more than 50 guests, or 50 percent of the allowed occupancy rate, whichever is less.
- For social distancing, tables must be set six feet apart, and no parties larger than six are allowed.
- Employees are required to wear facial coverings at all times, and proper hygiene and sanitization stations must also be set (following the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and National Restaurant Association).
- Restaurants can serve alcohol but only at tables (not at the bar), and alcohol sales are prohibited after 11pm.
- Since restaurants are reopening, and their hours and types of service are changing daily, we recommend calling before you go to confirm that the ones you plan to dine at are open (and find out whether they are offering dine-in service or take-out only).
- All bars are closed.
Grocery Stores & Farm Stands
All patrons are required to wear a face mask when entering a business.
- Plaza Extra East cashiers are using hand sanitizer before and after every transaction to help avoid transmission. They have also dedicated two check out lanes to seniors only in order to reduce their time in stores and exposure to other people.
- Seaside Market & Deli
- Quality Food is offering curbside pick-up, just place your order online and pick it up at the ramp.
- ARTfarm is not holding regular farmstand hours, but will have pop-up farmstands.
- Stores are prohibited from selling alcohol after 11pm until 6am the next morning.
- All beaches in the Territory have been reopened, but social distancing is still required.
- Beaches will close at 4pm on weekends and holidays.
- Parties, gatherings, DJs/large speakers, picnics, bonfires, and camping are still prohibited.
The Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Virgin Islands National Guard will be conducting screening of all travelers to the Territory. Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) will continue to work closely to ensure a safe experience at the territory’s airports for the traveling public and the airports’ tenants and employees.
- Taxis, safari buses and limos will be operating under strict safety and sanitation protocols created by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health in cooperation with the USVI Department of Tourism.
- For a list of the current flight schedules please see the USVI Department of Tourism list here.
- Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) encourages travelers to call their airline directly for updated flight information before arriving at the airport.
- Travelers are asked to adhere to federal and local health guidelines for travel and wear masks while traveling. In addition, travelers are encouraged to arrive on time for their departures as staffing for federal screening services has been reduced.
- All vessels currently anchoring, or seeking to anchor, in the waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands, for any length of time in any bay, are required to obtain a long-term anchoring permit, and will be required to pay long-term anchoring fees. The application is available here. Questions regarding anchoring may be directed to email@example.com.
- All cruise lines have halted cruise operations until further notice.
Retailers may open under strict safety protocols, and all patrons are required to wear a face mask when entering a business. We recommend calling the stores you wish to visit to confirm hours of operation.
Tours & Attractions
Tours, attractions and activities have reopened open under strict safety protocols, and all patrons are required to wear a face mask when entering a business. We recommend calling the attractions or tour operators in advance to confirm hours of operation and to find out about any special safety requirements.
Buck Island National Monument has reopened, but with the following restrictions:
- The Park Superintendent is authorizing park concessionaires but has limited boating operations to a 10-person maximum, including captain and crew, until further notice
- Buck Island Reef National Monument waters will remain open to boating activities in open waters
- Anchoring and mooring permits will be accepted
- Parties, BBQ’s and large gatherings are prohibited
- No alcoholic beverages and/or containers are allowed on the boats, in the water, or on the beach
- Guided hikes and other on-site public or educational programs remain cancelled
- The park will not issue special visitor use or business permits
- Trash is not being collected. When visiting Buck Island bring garbage bags so you can take your trash with you. Pack it in, pack it out!
- Maintain social distancing of six (6) feet.
- Maintain distance between vessels. Vessels should not be tied or “rafted” together.
Hotels & Accommodations
Hotels, timeshares, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, villas, charter vessels, and Airbnb accommodations may now accept new guests. Accommodations will be operating under strict safety and sanitation protocols created by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health in cooperation with the USVI Department of Tourism.
Support Local Small Businesses
With travel being cancelled, and as more people practice social distancing across the country in response to the coronavirus, small businesses will feel the impact the most. If you want to support St. Croix’s local businesses during this challenging time, here are a few things you can do:
- Buy gift certificates for for use later, that way once the pandemic has subsided you can reschedule your plans to patronize your favorite local restaurant, shop or tour operator.
- Shop online! Many local businesses also have online stores and will ship anywhere.
- Order your food for pick-up. Even if you choose not to dine in person, you can still enjoy your favorite dishes and desserts from local restaurants by ordering them in advance with pick up or limited delivery.
The official website for COVID-19 in the territory is the US Virgin Islands Department of Public Health. We recommend staying up-to-date by checking this website regularly, as well as signing up for local text alerts by texting COVID19USVI to 888777. Our local Plessen Healthcare has also put a protocol in place for anyone who thinks they may have contracted the coronavirus, which you can read more about below. You can also see how COVID-19 is impacting the territory by visiting the USVI Deprtament of Tourism’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Updates page.
We also recommend following these national and global health organizations who provide the most reliable information and updates regarding the coronavirus:
- USVI Department of Health
- USVI Department of Tourism
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Department of State
Plessen Healthcare Protocol & Testing
If you are here on St. Croix, Plessen Healthcare has established a special protocol at their Orange Grove Medical Campus to protect both patients and healthcare professionals in light of the current outbreak. All patients are strongly encouraged to utilize Plessen Healthcare’s Telemedicine option instead of visiting the office when possible. To make an appointment please call (340) 715-7720, contact Plessen via their website at www.plessenhealthcare.com/contact. For patients with respiratory symptoms that feel they must be seen in-person via walk-in appointment, Plessen Healthcare has set up an outdoor covered triage and evaluation area. Patients will be handed a mask and evaluated outside of the office for their safety and the safety of others. Click here to read more about COVID-19, how Plessen is combating this virus, and what you can do to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Plessen Healthcare is offering the COVID-19 antibody testing by appointment at the Orange Grove Medical campus. To see if you qualify to be tested, and how to schedule an appointment, click here.
The GoToStCroix Team would like to remind you that the best thing you can do during this outbreak (besides not panicking) is to clean your hands often, avoid close contact, and take basic steps to protect others as recommended by the CDC. Also, please be sure to get your coronavirus news and updates from reputable sources like the CDC, WHO, and the Department of Health. Stay healthy!
-Jennie Ogden, Editor