The U.S. Virgin Islands will reopen to leisure travelers on June 1, the territory announced Tuesday.
Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte said the destination is finalizing public health and tourism protocols to ensure a safe return for visitors. While the islands are preparing to welcome guests back in less than a week’s time, a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in effect through July 11.
The Department of Tourism has rolled out a comprehensive guide called the “Health and Safety Guidelines for the USVI Tourism Industry” for tourism stakeholders that include proper procedures for operating reception and concierge facilities; cleaning and housekeeping; managing dining rooms and providing technical and maintenance services.
The document, which will be updated frequently, also includes specific guidance for taxi, van, safari and limo services, restaurants, bars and hotels.
“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 Boschulte in a statement accompanying the announcement. “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.”
Boschulte also pointed out that the demand for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands has remained strong in the months since the destination was forced to close its borders due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“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,” he added. “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.”
The U.S. Virgin Islands will be among the first Caribbean destinations to reopen in the wake of COVID-19, with Puerto Rico recently relaxing some restrictions on beaches, restaurants and other amenities. Saint Lucia will also begin welcoming visitors back next week.
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