Good news: The U.S. Virgin Islands can open up their charter operations on June 1. The Virgins, of course, include some of the best cruising grounds around, with beautiful water, white-sand beaches, and great dive sites. And you’re still in the United States; no passport needed.
Albert Ryan, Jr., the Governor of the U.S. Virgins, just issued an executive order spelling out the protocols for when and how the islands will reopen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was his sixth executive order about the crisis.
Reopening the charter business is good news for those of us who love to cruise there, but it’s even more crucial for the islands’ economy. Tourism drives much of the business activity there, and both sail and powerboat charters contribute to much of that.
The executive order said that “all hotels, guest houses, villas, bed and breakfasts, shared economy hospitality bookings, AirBnBs, any temporary vacation housing, charter vessels, or any similar business known by any other terminology,” were prohibited from accepting any new guests until May 31 at 11:59 p.m., “unless earlier lifted, amended, or extended” by an order from the Governor.
Governor Ryan also spelled out a new Stay Safer at Home Order, requiring everyone entering a business to wear a face mask and to continue social distancing of at least six feet from another person. Retail stores are allowed to reopen now, but cannot have more than ten people at any given time (except for grocery stores, big-box stores, pharmacies and fuel service stations).
Golf courses, tennis courts and gyms can reopen now also, with the social distancing requirement. All bars, casinos and nightclubs in the islands will remain closed. And restaurants and food trucks can open on a “drive-through,” “take-out” or “delivery” basis only; no in-house dining is allowed.
Dare Blankenhorn, president of the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association, said his members were happy about the June reopening. “The multitude of dive sites, the fishing and lobstering, the stunning national parks, beaches and protected areas, and of course now the addition of floating restaurants that are being created to enhance the social experiences of our guests, are going to shine this summer,” he said. Read more: