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UPDATE: US Virgin Islands set to reopen (again)

Sept. 13, 2020
7 min read
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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials' guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
Editor's note: This article is being updated September 15 with a new opening date

U.S. Virgin Islands set to reopen (again)

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands on March 6, 2019. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands on March 6, 2019. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The U.S. Virgin Islands is setting a date to reopen again.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D) of the US Virgin Islands now says that he is allowing some of the island's "safer at home" measures to expire and leisure travel will again be allowed as of September 19.

A surge in coronavirus cases after an initial reopening back in August led to a new shutdown.

On August 17 all non-essential businesses and churches were ordered to cease operations and the public was ordered to stay at home.

No quarantine is required for healthy visitors and people will again be free to leave their hotel or resort and explore, but a negative COVID-19 test will be required for all incoming passengers.

Anyone without a negative test result will be required to quarantine at their own expense and according to the government, "are responsible for all associated costs, including transportation, lodging, food, and medical care."

The U.S. Virgin Islands which includes St. Thomas and St. Croix initially welcomed back tourists as of June 1 with restrictions.

(Screen shot courtesy government of the United States Virgin Islands)
(Screen shot courtesy government of the United States Virgin Islands)

Related Coverage: State-by-state guide to coronavirus reopening

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Although the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of United States territory, the islands had been limiting incoming travel even for domestic travelers. The only passengers allowed to enter the USVI had been residents, medical personnel, business travelers and property owners. Furthermore, the local government had implemented rigorous “safer at home” protocols, resulting in closed restaurants and similar non-essential businesses. Local beaches were also closed.

Opening again with some restrictions

Trunk Bay beach November 25, 2017 Saint John, Virgin Islands. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Trunk Bay beach November 25, 2017 Saint John, Virgin Islands. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Masks will be mandatory when going into businesses and attractions, beaches will also be open but social distancing is required. Large gatherings remain prohibited. Hotels, guesthouses, villas, timeshares and Airbnb accommodations will soon again be accepting bookings. COVID-19 guidelines are in place for retail businesses and attractions; taxi vans, safari and limo services.

Arriving in the Virgin Islands

Flights are also resuming.

A spokeswoman for the USVI tourism board told TPG, "There are routine temperature checks and health screenings at the ports of entry and public places. There is no quarantine required if travelers are healthy. Testing, quarantine, and isolation protocols are in place for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and also for contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases."

In fact in updated government guidance, every traveler who enters the U.S. Virgin Islands after September 19 is required to produce a COVID-19 test result obtained within five days of commencement of travel to the Territory. The government website reads, "Travelers unable to produce a test result will be subject to mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of the person's stay in the Territory."

A toolkit for travelers and other updates are available at www.usviupdate.com.

How to get there and where to stay

Many major carriers fly to the U.S. Virgin Islands including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Spirit and United Airlines. I found flights from New York beginning at $312 roundtrip on United Airlines with one stop. American Airlines flies direct from Miami for $195 roundtrip in the main cabin. American wanted 30,000 AAdvantage miles for coach and 85,000 roundtrip in business class. Flights from New York on AA in October are just $322 for basic economy or $352 for main cabin.

Spirit also flies to Henry E Rohlsen Airport St. Croix (STX). Delta has flights non-stop from Atlanta beginning at $430 in basic economy or $480 in main cabin to Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas (STT). Delta wants 39,000 Skymiles for main cabin redemptions.

Many hotels are accepting reservations.

Keisha Nelson from the tourism department said, "The U.S. Virgin Islands offer a variety of accommodation options based on travelers’ preferences and budget. Travelers looking for a larger resort experience can opt for The Buccaneer on St. Croix, The Hills Saint John or The Ritz-Carlton on St. Thomas. For a smaller boutique option, there is The Fred on St. Croix and Gallows Point on St. John."

The Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham had rooms in St. Thomas for $215 a night.

Related: Best ways to use miles in the Caribbean

If you are looking for chain hotels where you can redeem your points there's the Westin St. John Resort Villas for $379 a night or 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

Related: Review of the Westin St. John Resort Villas

Westin St. John Resort villas. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas was $449 a night or 85,000-100,000 points a night. It's a top-tier Category 8 Marriott Bonvoy property. Be sure to check out my colleague Jane Frye's review here.

A view of the Ritz property at night. (Photo by Jane Frye/The Points Guy)

There are also two new Marriott properties that are set to open in June of 2022. So stay tuned for details on those.

A reminder that this tourism-dependent country is still vulnerable to coronavirus exposure from outsiders as travel is one of the biggest factors in spreading COVID-19 disease. TPG recommends you speak to your doctor about the risks to yourself and others around you, and research destinations before you plan nonessential travel.

Expect to plan ahead for reservations and bookings, and check out our global country-by-country guide for guidance

Where else in the Caribbean can you go?

Meantime Antigua, St Lucia, Aruba, and others have announced they are beginning to accept foreign tourists.

You can see our stories on those destinations here:

St Lucia is reopening to U.S. travelers

A country-by-country reopening guide to the Caribbean

Additional reporting by Katherine Fan.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023