U.S. Virgin Islands Closes to Leisure Travelers Due to Spike in COVID-19

Cruise ships docked in St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands
(Photo by sorincolac/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images) St. Thomas // Photo by sorincolac/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The U.S. Virgin Islands is closing to leisure visitors in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The decision is effective Wednesday, August 19, and will last for a period of at least one month.

Effective immediately, hotels, villas, Airbnb accommodations, guest houses, temporary vacation housing and charter vessels and similar businesses have been ordered not to accept or book any new reservations for 30 days. As of Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 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 relevant government agency they are visiting.

Virgin Islanders in the territory and abroad are encouraged to travel only for urgent matters to help limit the contagion into and out of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Governor Albert Bryan Jr. additionally announced Thursday that the territory will revert to the “Stay-at-Home” (Orange alert) phase of its COVID-19 response, for the next two weeks, at which time it will be reevaluated. According to the territory’s chief executive, on Monday, August 17, all non-essential businesses and churches are ordered to cease operations and the public, including non-essential public sector workers, are ordered to stay at home.

Beginning Monday, August 17 and lasting until August 31 unless lifted earlier, all restaurants in the territory can offer only takeout, delivery or drive-thru service. All bars, nightclubs and cabarets are to remain closed as long as the Territory remains in a State of Emergency.

The U.S. Virgin Islands reopened for leisure tourism on June 1. From May 10 to June 20, there had only been six new confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to Our World in Data. By August 12, that spiked to 92 new cases.

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