British Virgin Islands Ease COVID Related Travel Restrictions, and Lift Mask Mandate

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands – The British Virgin Islands (BVI) government says as of Wednesday, persons traveling to the British Overseas Territory, regardless of vaccination status, will no longer need to register for entry clearance and will also not be required to show proof of travel insurance.

pennMARHealth Minister Marlon Penn“Day-trippers – meaning travelers who had been away from the Territory for less than 24 hours, or persons remaining in the Territory for less than 24 hours – will no longer need to present a COVID-19 test result upon arrival,” said Health and Social Development Minister, Marlon Penn.

He said Cabinet was briefed last week on the current COVID-19 situation and “we were very encouraged by the continuing trend towards milder COVID-19 infections, fewer cases of severe disease, and reduced hospital admissions.

“All of these metrics suggest that we have transitioned away from an acute, or emergency phase of the pandemic. If these trends continue, this virus will eventually become endemic in the Territory,” he said, announcing the adjustments to the exiting public health measures that had been put in place to curb the spread of the virus that has so far killed 63 people and infected 6, 902 since March 2020.

Penn said that travelers over the age of five years, regardless of vaccination status, will have to present a negative rapid antigen test, or rt-PCR test, taken up to 48 hours before entry or alternatively, present a document issued by a licensed medical professional certifying COVID-19 recovery within 90 days prior to arrival, in place of a negative test.

“If unable to present a test result, or a Recovery certificate, the person will be tested upon arrival in the Territory. A person who tests positive on arrival will be required to adhere to Ministry of Health protocols and instructions for COVID-19 positive persons,” he said, adding that these entry procedures will be kept under review to determine any changes to be made in the future.

Penn said that Cabinet had also decided that, with effect from Wednesday, the wearing of face masks or face coverings, whether indoors or outdoors, will no longer be mandated by law, but will be allowed as a matter of choice in public spaces.

“Even as this mask mandate is being lifted, any private establishment or service provider may institute its own policy on mask wearing. The same will apply to the public sector, and the Deputy Governor will develop a policy on the areas where mask wearing will still be required, such as in agencies providing health and social care, border protection services, and other front-facing departments where the risk of exposure is higher,” he said.

He said the Ministry of Health will also be ending all mandatory isolation of cases, quarantine of contacts of cases, and contact tracing and that further guidance for persons who may be COVID-19 positive or potentially exposed to COVID-19 will be issued this week.

“As we move from emergency mode to a more sustainable management of COVID-19, and enjoy fewer restrictions on daily life, we must remain vigilant and prepared. New variants can emerge and spread fast, and it may become necessary to reinstate certain measures that have been relaxed – the pandemic is not yet over.

“It is important for people to make informed choices about how to protect themselves, and I encourage everyone to take special care to safeguard seniors, chronically ill, and other vulnerable persons,” he said, noting that vaccines have proven to be very effective in reducing infection rates and severe disease.