The US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is continuing to urge compliance with the protocols and guidelines that have been established to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the territory.
The statement comes after the first week of the return of leisure travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Together with our colleagues in the Department of Health, the Virgin Islands Port Authority, the VI National Guard, and the Office of the Governor, we have gone to great lengths to invest in public awareness, training, technology and implementation to ensure that visitors and residents are as protected as possible from COVID-19 infection,” said USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte.
Since September 19, 2020, when hotels and other accommodation providers were permitted to accept new check-ins, hundreds of guests – the majority of whom were pre-screened through the Department of Tourism’s Travel Screening Portal – have arrived through the territory’s air and sea ports.
The pre-screening process now requires that all travelers aged five and older, without regard to the COVID-19 positivity rate in the visitor’s state of residence, submit evidence of testing for the virus.
“Now, more than ever, we need our industry partners – taxi operators, accommodations providers, tour guides, restaurants and activities – as well as every Virgin Islander to stay diligent in practicing and enforcing the rules that have been set forth,” said USVI Governor Albert Bryan Jr.
As the territory continues to experience a decline in active COVID-19 cases, tourism, health and other officials are mindful that spikes or surges can quickly and easily occur if front line workers and other stakeholders become relaxed in enforcing compliance, both among employees and visitors.
Seeking to avoid a similar uptick in positive cases to the one that forced the territory’s August 17, 2020, return to the “Stay-at-Home” phase of its COVID-19 response, Commissioner Boschulte and his colleagues are reminding their tourism partners of that “unwelcome possibility” should complacency set in.
The commissioner expressed his gratitude to residents of the Virgin Islands for their overwhelming support, patience and cooperation over the past six months as the territory has sought to find the balance between “protecting lives and re-injecting life into our tourism-dependent economy.”
The USVI is urging stakeholders to ensure their practices are in accordance with the published standards and proper procedures for operating reception and concierge facilities; cleaning and housekeeping; managing dining rooms; and providing technical and maintenance services.
Specific guidance has also been developed for taxi, van, safari and limo services; restaurants and lodging facilities.
“We value our partners immensely and we are confident they will continue to cooperate with us to ensure our guests experience the best we have to offer in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including sun, sand, sea and safety,” said Boschulte said.