U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS - The U.S. Virgin Islands will reopen its doors to leisure travelers on Monday, June 1, 2020.
Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte declared that the Territory is finalizing public health and tourism protocols for the return of visitors to "America's paradise" in less than a week's time.
Commissioner Boschulte reported that as new protocols, developed with input from the Office of the Governor, tourism and health authorities, and the private sector, are rolled out, a state of emergency due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will remain in effect through July 11, 2020.
"Over the past several weeks, we have been building COVID-19 mitigation and response capacity, and preparing protocols to protect the health and safety of residents and visitors alike," said Commissioner Boschulte, who explained that the decision to reopen has not been made lightly. "We did not want to rush to reopen in reaction to what other destinations are doing. Instead, we have engaged in data-driven, risk-based analysis, in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Department of Health and federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other stakeholders."
In preparation for the reopening of the Territory, the Department of Tourism has prepared "Health and Safety Guidelines for the USVI Tourism Industry", a comprehensive master document that provides specific guidance to all tourism stakeholders. "The response and collaboration of various departments and agencies are to be commended," Commissioner Boschulte said, noting that the document will be frequently updated to reflect anticipated guidance updates.
The Commissioner asserted that the reopening is a partnership that requires everyone to have both a personal and professional responsibility to reduce the spread of the new virus. "We are very pleased with the across-the-board approach so that key tourism subsectors now have specific guidelines," he added. He stated that the new health and safety protocols, along with the commitment of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands, would assure visitors that the Territory's decision to open its doors next week is the right one.
Guidance includes procedures for operating reception and concierge facilities; cleaning and housekeeping; managing dining rooms; and providing technical and maintenance services. There is also specific subsector guidance for taxi, van, safari and limo services, restaurants and bars, and accommodations.
Commissioner Boschulte stated that interest in travel to the destination was very strong: "Throughout the pandemic, we were greatly encouraged by the outpouring of support and expressions of desire from friends around the world to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even though COVID-19 caused us to temporarily close our doors, our hearts remained open. We now look forward to welcoming travelers back to their home away from home."