The US Virgin Islands, including our very own island of St. Croix, has returned to the ‘Safer At Home’ phase of the Governor’s COVID-19 response plan. Governor Bryan 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:
Safer At Home Phase
Effective September 8, 2020 St. Croix will return to the third phase of the territory’s reopening, the ‘Safer At Home’. In this phase, the following restrictions will be observed throughout the US Virgin Islands:
- Non-essential businesses open
- Facial coverings are required in all commercial entities
- The social distancing requirement of at least 6 feet between people not residing in the same household remains in place
- Thermal scanners are installed at the airports, and other measures are in place to track visitors and their health
- Mass gatherings are limited to no more than 50 people and must observe 6 foot social distancing and all gatherings of people require face masks (except children 2 and younger or those with acute respiratory ailments)
- Government operations remain in their current hold pattern and all conditions for public interaction remain in place until further notice
- Indoor and outdoor recreation facilities are open, but no food or drink may be served
- Churches are open, with a maximum of 50 people
- Visitation to nursing homes is closed
- Private schools may open, but the new school year for public schools will begin September 14th.
- Businesses should encourage employees to take frequent breaks to wash hands, and employees showing any signs of illness should remain at home. Business employees should wear face masks when interacting with customers.
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.
ALL travelers coming to St. Croix, including residents returning home, must come with a COVID negative PCR test that was taken within 5 days of travel. Individuals who do not show test results, or take a test locally, must go into a 14-day quarantine.
The U.S. Virgin Islands has created a secure Travel Screening Portal to facilitate pre-arrival processing, thereby improving efficiency, reducing delays, and providing a more seamless traveler experience. The secure portal can be found at www.usviupdate.com/travelportal.
The USVI Department of Health and the USVI Department of Tourism have partnered to provide a hotline with answers to all COVID-19 related questions for those travelling to the United States Virgin Islands: (800) 372-8784.
Travel From the US Virgin Islands
Currently New York state is requiring all individuals travelling into NY from the US Virgin Islands are required to quarantine for 14 days. Be sure to check with your final destination to find out if you will be required to quarantine after your stay here on St. Croix.
Restaurants may offer dine-in service, with the following restrictions:
- No serving of alcohol at bar counters;
- No seating of more than 6 persons per table;
- Tables must be 6 feet apart, and;
- Patrons must wear masks at all times when not eating or drinking.
- All bars remain closed at this time.
Grocery Stores & Farm Stands
All patrons are required to wear a face mask when entering a business and to observe the social distancing guidelines.
- Plaza Extra East cashiers are using hand sanitizer before and after every transaction to help avoid transmission.
- Seaside Market & Deli is doing temperature checks upon entry
- 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 close at 4pm on weekends and holidays.
- Parties, mass 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 are limited to 50% capacity and 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.
Shopping, Tours & Attractions
Tours, attractions and activities are operating with social distancing and facial covering restrictions as noted above under ‘Safer at Home’. Stores are also operating with social distancing and facial covering restrictions. Many stores are also offering online shopping, see our Shop St. Croix Online page for more information. Casinos and gaming facilities will be able to reopen on September 19, 2020.
Hotels & Accommodations
Effective September 18, 2020, hotels, villas, Airbnb accommodations, guest houses, temporary vacation housing, charter vessels and similar businesses may accept new reservations and check in new guests.
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, see our Shop St. Croix Online page for more information.
- 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