a sailboat in the water

Scratch the US Virgin Islands off the list of places for your next getaway, at least for the immediate future. The island paradise is reverting to stay at home orders and closing to all leisure travelers, in an attempt to curb new spreads of covid-19.

The US Virgin Islands are always stunning, but have been a popular choice in recent months, particularly with Americans facing few other travel options. New concerns for community spread have forced Governor Albert Bryan to ban all leisure travel, from all points of departure, effective Wednesday, August 19th.

a beach with a hat and a bag on a blanket on a beach

According to Governor Bryan, islanders must prepare to hunker down for at least a month of lockdown and stay at home measures. Releasing lockdown restriction related movement, and travel would come only when case counts drop, and the cases which do remain are those which do not require “acute medical care”.

Basically, if you were planning a trip for in the month(s), nothing will be open, hotels can’t take you, and it would be irresponsible to visit, given the delicate health care systems in place.

Hotels and other lodging businesses are barred from accepting any new reservations, and all non essential businesses will be shuttered. Reservation exceptions will be made for essential business travel, as well as government and emergency workers.

a sailboat in the water

Just over a month ago, GSTP featured the state of US Virgin Islands travel, which included important precautions for arrivals and island activities. The USVI did not however require negative covid-19 tests prior to departure for most arrivals, a move required by many Caribbean nations which remain open.

For those with affected reservations, the answers depend on a variety of factors. As to flights, it’s all about whether airlines actually cancel a flight, which would trigger refund rights, or whether the fly anyway, in which case any travellers may only be eligible for a voucher. Hotel bookings would also be subject to the cancellation policy in place, though many hotels will likely close entirely, which would trigger refund options.

With each border closed, opened again and then closed once again, more and more consensus is building behind universal standards for covid-19 testing prior to departure as the only way to create sustainable international travel in the near future.

Over the weekend, Iceland was forced to modify entry procedures, moving from a test on arrival to two tests, with 4-5 days of isolation in between. Travellers now face concerns not only over a virus, but changing measures which may put their trips in jeopardy, or their ability to get back to work upon return at risk.

For now, that USVI trip is on hold, and it may be for some time…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Just came back, I can tell you that enforcement of the negative COVID requirement was lax, maybe nonexistent. It consisted of filling out a form and showing your negative test to the soldier on your way out of the baggage claim. The soldier I talked to said most didn’t have a negative test, and they were just let in with a promise to quarantine.

  2. We are in the USVI now,Landed on Friday 8/15. You’re right, the whole COVID-19 thing is a joke! People either ignored Commands to stop and show proof of a Negative Result or ,as you said promised ,to Self Quarantine. Most people did wear masks though.

    Tourism here sucks and the people are VERY rude! I can’t tell you how many times we almost got into a head-on-collision from the Local drivers here that speed out of control on two lane Roads on every side of the Mountain! Also people, if you Rent a car please be mindful that in the Virgin Islands they drive on the LEFT side of the road! There were so many beat up and wrecked up cars here and after seeing how they wrecklessly drive, I understood why! They show no mercy to Tourists at all!

    The only good thing about the VI are the BEAUTIFUL BEACHES!!! Magens Beach is AMAZING! I didn’t want to go to any other beach after seeing Magens Beach,but forced my self to venture out to see other beaches. Sapphire Beach is ok,it just has too many rocks to step on before getting on the smooth sand surface of the water. Although the vacation rentals in the Mountains have the BEST panoramic views , stay in those with caution as it can get pretty dangerous to drive in an unfamiliar place. We were on Top two days, but decided to come down to Sea Level at the bottom of the Mountains out of fear of crashing or being crashed into and knocked over the cliffs! We take the Ferry to St John and St Croix today. Hopefully it’s better!(We arrived with a new COVID 19 “Stay At Home” Ordervv

    1. Visit Trunks Bay in St.John for a day trip
      St.John has the best beaches and most are empty in these times

    2. M.J. and all those reading his comment, this couldn’t be further from the truth! We just got back from our honeymoon last week. And in our 6 days on the island, we did not encounter a single rude soul. Quite the contrary! People were overly nice to the point that we thought they wanted something from us, but that is just their way in St. Thomas. Random people in the gas station will talk to you freely and ask how your day was and offer great beach spots for next time. It’s incredible!

      The driving is definitely a little intimidating at first. The roads are narrower and sharper turns than were used to, but you get used to it quick. There was one or 2 people driving fast over the course of our stay but most people drive 25-40 on the roads.

      St. Thomas has so much to give and you clearly did not embrace the culture, the people, or the atmosphere. I think it’s a blessing in disguise you didn’t like it, because now you won’t go back and the rest of us can enjoy!

      1. Amen. The people of St. Thomas are kind and more than accommodating to the tourist who are usually loud (drunk), condescending and disrespectful of the islands culture and beauty. We have vacationed there every January for the last 15 years and are very disappointed to miss 2021.

      2. Thank you so much Eric. Glad you enjoyed it. Come back, hopefully, next year. We realized that reopening would break the virus to the islands and it did big time. So our governor had no choice but to shut things down. By doing this, he will make it safer for people like you to return. Blessings

    3. my sister lives in the USVI and I will tell you you are correct! Even when there was no COVID-19 the locals are ruthless in their driving. The first three days my sister was there I happened to be up there visiting with her. there was a drunk local flying up the mountain on the wrong side of the road as she was coming down from where she lives. We saw him throw out a beer bottle into the woods Before he hit her head on. We were driving behind her. Thank God she had a heavy duty jeep bumper. Apparently the locals are in cahoots with the police force because we don’t think that guy even got a ticket. It took almost 20 minutes for police officer to arrive because there was another wreck at the top of the hill! I highly recommend staying down in Charlotte Amalie. ! I know I don’t want to drive there. They do offer Uber though. well if Uber is working now that everything is in quarantine. Don’t know. Good luck!

    4. You’ll like St. John much more. Best beaches in the world, including Trunk, Cinnamon, and Francis. But the preceding comments are by and large true regarding the locals.

    5. If you’re rude then you will be treated as such. The VI has some of the nicest people compare to the mainland.

    6. MJ. My husband and I moved to St Thomas 1 1/2 years ago. How much research did you do on local customs, the people, history, etc before you came here? Or did you assume because we are a territory of the US we are the same as the states? Yes we drive on the left, a custom left over from the Danish occupation of our islands. Honestly I have found the drivers here to be some of the most courteous drivers in the world. I’m sorry you had a bad experience with them.
      Perhaps if you had done some research, you would know that not to long ago the islands experienced 2 category 5 hurricanes within 2 weeks. Irma and Maria definitely took their toll here. With limited funds and resources the locals and the local government have been trying to recover. One of things destroyed were our roads. I’m sure you saw that for yourself. Perhaps once you understood that your mind would have clicked as to why so many of the cars here have body damage. It’s not from accidents. It’s from flying debris. Most of the locals live well below the poverty level and can not afford to replace – repair a car because of body damage. They live with it. Most insurance companies don’t cover “hurricane damage”. Not on homes or vehicles. I’m sure you also noticed the amount of homes sitting un repaired for the same reason.
      The locals have a custom, they say, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Night. When you are kind and say theses thongs to them you show them respect, they will In turn show it back to you! Were you aware of this custom? Or were you just another rude tourist coming here expecting to be royally treated?
      Yes we have the most amazing beaches in the world. I’m afraid they are often dirty. You see many coming here don’t know how to clean up after themselves. They expect it to be done for them. Our Beachs are cleaned by volunteers as are our roads. Again it’s a limited funds thing. Something the entitled mainlanders don’t understand.
      We are a third world country. Did you know that? As such we have third world medical care. In times like a pandemic our one tiny hospital can’t treat our citizens adequately, how are we supposed to treat any mainlander that brings a virus with them. Were you aware that the reason the Governor put us back to essential services only, is because in 2 days we had a spike that shot our numbers way up? They are tracing a lot of those numbers to people bringing it here with them. With such a small population we can’t afford outbreaks like you have there. It would decimate us.
      Perhaps next time you travel outside your borders you’ll do some research, and know how to act like a gentleman.

  3. That’s o.k.the place is a dump and the locals are lazy. Humid and mosquito ridden and trash everywhere. Everything is overpriced and government corruption is rampant. Oh, and they give a pass to child molesters like Epstein.

  4. I am so sorry you had that experience at St John. My favorite island and our spot fir many years. Have you been to the east side near Coral Bay? Wonderful people and beaches. I don’t care for the new touristy area by Maho. Sorry to see it except for the restrooms.

  5. Our family, twelve of us, were in St John’s mid July for a week, we stayed in Maria Bluffs. We could not have had a better experience, the people were all very friendly and we found driving to not be an issue at all. Once they open back up, go and enjoy!

  6. Listen up rich people who can afford to travel, get a Covid-19 test and afford the medical care if you get Covid-19. We the people of the Virgin Island can not afford to get sick. Not from the flu, some mosquitoes born Disease or the cold. So just spend time at home with the family, so we can focus on keeping ours healthy

  7. All these individuals with negative reviews of the virgin island must have been on another planet. My wife and I went for our marriage anniversary July 23rd for four days. We were swept away by the beautiful island and beaches. The people were beyond nice and comforting a far cry from the atmosphere here in the untied states. It is one of my favorite places to visit as Europe, Hawaii and other US regions didn’t have the versatile features and warmth as the USVI.

  8. Just read that Governor Bryan closed islands to tourism. My daughter’s family live on St. Croix and I spend Christmas with them. I have my ticket, sure hope this madness is over by then!

  9. This is an extremely poorly written and alarmist article. The boarders are not closed, your testing requirements are false, businesses are not “shuttered”, flights aren’t ceasing unless the airlines limit them, and the closure was not abrupt. The governor is taking needed steps to flatten the curve of the small beautiful islands with limited resources, that he governs.

    1. Perhaps you’re misinformed, like your spelling of borders. There’s nothing inaccurate in this article whatsoever, as confirmed by the Governor himself.

  10. We’ve been in love with the USVI since the early 1990’s, starting with St. Croix, next St. Thomas and the discovering St.John which is the jewel, if the crowds are an issue definitely stay on st. John, 42 public beaches, much prettier and chill than St. Thomas. IMHO

  11. My first time in Saint Thomas I was 18 and my parents surprised us by getting married. I’ve been back more than a dozen times since then. My oldest son moved to the Virgin islands right after the hurricanes and helped people in need. He is still living there now and I’ve been to visit him three times and was planning on going again at the end of September. I’ve always found the people to be great laid back and in general appreciative. Driving on the left side of the road has been interesting but you get used to it pretty quickly and as far as the roads turning my son says you pretty much don’t go over 35 anywhere on the island. I remember the huge pothole out in front of his house it was about 4 ft wide 3 ft deep and 2 ft long. I can imagine that would make people swerve. All in all, my experiences in St Thomas St John have always been wonderful. I’ve been looking for a place myself and would love to live there. Resilient is the word I would use for the people of this island. Thanks for letting me come and hang out on your beautiful beaches.

  12. Me and my family were fortunate enough to get in our vacation on St. John from August 15th – 25th. We love St. John and all its natural beauty. We were also there back in 2017 right before the big hurricanes hit the islands. I have to say that St. John looked just as beautiful as we last saw it before the hurricanes. We have never had any issues with residents – they have all been very welcoming. I do have to say that you couldn’t help but notice that St. Thomas still has much work to do as far as repairing the damage from the storms and it sadly does look a little more run down. I feel bad for the residents as I am sure they struggle with rebuilding and then to have Covid-19 take away a lot of the income from tourism, they can use all the help they can get! I’m sorry to hear that some of you had a bad experience. As for me and my family, we can’t wait to get back to St. John – I believe it is one of the most beautiful places on earth!

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