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Governor Albert Bryan said Thursday afternoon that beginning Jan. 18, no one will be allowed to enter the U.S. Virgin Islands via air travel without a negative Covid-19 test, an action he said is being undertaken in partnership with airlines. The governor referred to the move as "one more measure we think is going to keep everybody safe."
"Effective Monday, Jan. 18, no one will be allowed to get on a plane to the U.S. Virgin Islands unless you have a negative Covid test," Mr. Bryan said, speaking during his Covid-19 response update press briefing.
He said the directive is for everyone and not just tourists. "That means you, me, granny — everybody — cannot get on a plane. So when you make your reservation to go to the states for medical or whatever leave, please just figure out where you can get a Covid test within five days of you coming back to our beautiful Virgin Islands," Mr. Bryan said.
According to the Dept. of Health's latest report, the territory as of Wednesday had 124 active Covid-19 cases: 57 on St. Croix, 49 on St. Thomas and 18 on St. John. St. Thomas leads the territory with Covid-19 fatalities with 15, followed by St. Croix with 7, and St. John with 1, according to D.O.H. — for a total of 23 fatalities as of Wednesday.
Governor Bryan said the airlines have been helpful in implementing the new directive, which he believes will be effective. "You won't be able to check-in, you won't be able to get your boarding pass unless you are able to display that test taken within five days of your departure from where ever it is you're coming from," he said.
The administration about a month ago announced a similar effort, though it was solely with American Airlines, while the latest directive is part of a blanket move to cover all air passengers arriving into the territory. "I know we're going to have snafus; it's not going to run smoothly at first, but we think that when we do this, we're going to be able to keep everybody safe," Mr. Bryan said.
Relative to the administering of Covid-19 vaccines, Mr. Bryan said over 870 Virgin Islanders were vaccinated as of Thursday. Dept. of Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion corroborated the data with the Consortium, telling the publication that data found on U.S. news organizations such as Bloomberg, showing the territory had only vaccinated 147 people, was highly inaccurate.