The U.S. Virgin Islands aims to clarify its entry requirements for American travelers. The renowned island updated its procedures early this month due to increasing travel demand from the mainland U.S.
In a recent press release from the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, the board announced that it is on a mission to educate travelers on the fact that the region is an American overseas territory and as such, travel to St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix or Water Island is within the U.S. domestic jurisdiction.
Hence, the CDC COVID-19 travel requirements do not apply to citizens traveling directly from USVI to the U.S. mainland. This means that Americans do not need COVID-19 test documentation to return to the U.S. mainland.
Additionally, U.S. citizens traveling to USVI from the states or Puerto Rico do not require a passport for entry.
In this regard, the United States Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism, Joseph Boschulte, stated:
“We, too, are American. The new requirements do not apply to persons traveling or returning directly from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland. if you are leaving St. Thomas or St. Croix and you are heading to or returning to the U.S. mainland, the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require passengers to test.”
As one of the highly acclaimed destinations located in the continental United States, the Virgin Islands feature a group of Caribbean islands, geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago.
The U.S. territory recently reopened in response to rising popularity amongst Americans.
As stated by the USVI Tourism board, thousands of Americans have been arriving on the islands, by air and sea, despite the downturn in leisure travel since the start of the pandemic, validating demand for travel to the sunny destination.
“As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s encouraging to see that the U.S. Virgin Islands is still top of mind among travelers,” said Commissioner Boschulte.
Granted the reopening, strict protocols and procedures have been set in place to ensure maximum safety for all its visitors.
Here are the updates travelers should know when planning a trip to USVI from the U.S. mainland.
COVID-19 Testing and Requirements
Visitors aged five and above must present negative COVID-19 test results in order to obtain certification from the USVI travel screening portal which allows them to travel to the island within five days of testing.
Those who are traveling within 24 hours must complete the form manually and present a paper copy upon arrival. Visitors are required to provide both their original test document and the travel certificate processed on the online portal.
Alternatives for entry include obtaining positive results for the antibody finger stick or blood draw procedures within four months of travel to the Islands.
Health and Safety
Pertaining to health and safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel notice containing information regarding traveling to the Island during the current pandemic.
The CDC has primarily advised tourists to avoid traveling to the destination at present due to the risk of virus transmission. However, tourists choosing to travel to the island must comply with specific rules and regulations:
Wearing a mask in public areas, consistently washing and sanitizing hands in an attempt to minimize germs and physically distancing with other travelers has been urged by the CDC.
Flights arriving at USVI are constantly increasing due to the expansion of airline frequencies from the U.S.
JetBlue announced a new summer route between Newark (EWR) and St Thomas (STT). Frontier Airlines has launched a new service between Orlando and St. Thomas and will begin a twice-a-week Miami-St. Thomas route in March.
Delta Airlines offers weekly flight service through Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday between Minneapolis and St. Thomas while Sun Country Airlines issues weekly Saturday service for the same route.
While gaining entry requires protocols and procedures, staying on the island does as well. At present, the USVI is in a “Safer-at-Home” reopening stage, during which businesses are operating, but tourists are advised to be careful in observing all public health protocols.
Subsequently, facilities, amenities, and hotels are open to all visitors but require COVID-19 regulations, frequent temperature checks, and extensive hygiene in order to maintain disinfection efforts.
Limiting outdoor activity is advised for all individuals residing in the Islands, while local, state and national authority’s requirements substantially vary.
“Due to COVID-19, there are more travel protocols and restrictions in place now than ever before, and we realize that travelers may be overwhelmed and confused by the different requirements established by local, state, or national authorities,” said Commissioner Boschulte. “Our team is here to help,”.
For more information please visit: usviupdate.com
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com