U.S. Virgin Islands Ending COVID Travel Restrictions for American Travelers — What to Know




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CDC: British Virgin Islands at ‘high’ travel risk for Covid-19


(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added one destination — a relaxed Caribbean playground — to its “high” category for Covid-19 risk.

The British Virgin Islands moved up to Level 3 on Monday; it previously had been at Level 2.

The islands are known for the famous Virgin Gorda Baths (a bay dotted with giant granite boulders); water sports such as diving and sailing; and a pace that is more casual than some of the Caribbean’s hot spots.

Overall, this week’s CDC travel risk update saw little in the way of the dramatic shifts in status that characterized this past winter and early spring during the original Omicron variant surge.

The CDC recently overhauled its ratings system for assessing Covid-19 risk for travelers.

The Level 3 “high” risk category is now the top rung in terms of risk level. Level 2 is considered “moderate” risk, and Level 1 is “low” risk.

Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved only for special circumstances, such as extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern or health care infrastructure collapse. Under the new system, no destinations have been placed at Level 4 so far.

Level 3

Customers sit on a terrace alongside a canal in Amsterdam, on April 28, 2021,

Amsterdam is blessed with urban biking and canals, but the Netherlands is still ranked “high” risk for Covid-19.

FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP via Getty Images

In the CDC’s new system, the “Level 3: Covid-19 High” category applies to countries that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Much of Europe is still lodged there with the summer travel season getting ever closer. As of May 9, some popular European destinations remained at Level 3:

• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Ireland
• Italy
• The Netherlands
• Portugal
• Spain
• United Kingdom

It’s not just European favorites that find themselves at Level 3. Other popular travel spots around the world still ranked at the high risk level:

• Brazil
• Canada
• Costa Rica
• Malaysia
• South Korea
• Thailand

There are almost 110 destinations at Level 3 this week. Level 3 locations now account for nearly half of the roughly 235 places monitored by the CDC.

The CDC advises that you get up-to-date with your Covid-19 vaccines before traveling to a Level 3 destination. “Up-to-date” includes not only the full initial vaccinations but any boosters for which you’re eligible.
The CDC does not include the United States in its list of advisories, but on its color-coded map of the world, the CDC had it at Level 3 on Monday.

Level 2

The Temple of Hercules at the Amman Citadel. Jordan was moved to "moderate" risk by the CDC.

The Temple of Hercules at the Amman Citadel. Jordan was moved to “moderate” risk by the CDC.

Maurizio De Mattei/Adobe Stock

Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation reported 50 to 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. Seven destinations — spread all around the planet — were moved to this level on Monday:

• The Bahamas
• Fiji
• Jordan
• Mongolia
• Namibia
• Paraguay
• St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The move to Level 2 was a step back for the Bahamas, Namibia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which had been at Level 1.

But the move was good news for tourism-dependent Fiji, along with Jordan and Mongolia, which had been at Level 3. Paraguay was previously “unknown.” Almost 25 places are now at Level 2.

In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.
If you’re concerned about a health situation not related to Covid-19, check here.

Level 1

The Plaza Murillo and Bolivian Palace of Government in La Paz. Bolivia became a Level 1 destination on Monday.

The Plaza Murillo and Bolivian Palace of Government in La Paz. Bolivia became a Level 1 destination on Monday.

diegograndi/Adobe Stock

To be in “Level 1: Covid-19 Low,” a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days. Two landlocked destinations were added to the category on May 9:

• Bolivia
• Kosovo

South America’s Bolivia had been at Level 2, while Kosovo, part of Europe’s Balkans, dropped all the way from Level 3, making it the biggest mover of the week.

This level is dominated by destinations in Africa, including Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda. Level 1 had more than 50 entries total this week.

Unknown

Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk because of a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places with ongoing warfare or unrest. Only one addition was made on Monday to this category: Angola.

The CDC advises against travel to these places precisely because the risks are unknown. Also attracting their fair share of visitors in this category are the Azores, Cambodia and Tanzania.

A medical expert weighs in on risk levels

Transmission rates are just “one guidepost” for travelers’ personal risk calculations, according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

We’ve moved into “a phase in the pandemic where people need to make their own decisions based on their medical circumstances as well as their risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

There are other factors to weigh in addition to transmission rates, according to Wen.

“Another is what precautions are required and followed in the place that you’re going and then the third is what are you planning to do once you’re there.

“Are you planning to visit a lot of attractions and go to indoor bars? That’s very different from you’re going somewhere where you’re planning to lie on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. That’s very different. Those are very different levels of risk.”

Vaccination is the most significant safety factor for travel, since unvaccinated travelers are more likely to become ill and transmit Covid-19 to others, Wen said.

And it’s also important to consider what you would do if you end up testing positive away from home. Where will you stay and how easy will it be to get a test to return home?

Top image: BVI, now at Level 3, has plenty of beach escapes. (Matt/Adobe Stock).



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Discover the US Virgin Islands’ Sustainable Travel Options


The U.S. Virgin Islands, which comprises St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas, are beloved for their beautiful Caribbean waters, welcoming cultures and ample experiences. But these islands are also great destinations for travelers interested in traveling sustainably.

Travelers to the U.S. Virgin Islands can participate in ecotourism initiatives and explore the islands’ bountiful natural beauty in a variety of ways.

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Those who’d like to spend their time doing good while on vacation can participate in voluntourism initiatives benefitting three key areas: education, the environment and local enterprise development as part of the Purpose in Paradise voluntourism program. Travelers can choose to participate in everything from beach cleanups to school literacy programs, rebuilding parks, restoring coral and much more.

Accommodations in the USVI can also be more eco-conscious than a typical resort. Lovango Resort + Beach Club is powered by renewable energy and uses a method to convert seawater into water used for cooking, drinking and more. The resort has a partnership with the University of the Virgin Islands to participate in the restoration of the coral reefs around the Lovango Cay, which guests of the resort can also participate in.

Another sustainable accommodation option is the Virgin Islands Campground on Water Island, which offers several self-sustaining cottages located near Honeymoon Beach and a more laid-back, non-resort-style accommodation option for adventurous travelers.


St. John, US Virgin Islands
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands (Photo by Lauren Breedlove)

The U.S. Virgin Islands also offers plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities, both on land and in the water. From scuba diving and snorkeling in the region’s beautiful reefs at Buck Island Reef National Monument in St. Croix to hiking St. John’s 11,500+ acres of protected lands, nature lovers will find no lack of opportunity for enjoying nature.

The sustainability also extends to restaurants, many of which source their food from the local sea and from their own gardens. St. Croix is home to the largest agricultural festival in the area, too. AgriFest, held in late May, offers a wonderful look into the islands’ produce with live music, fair games and yes, delicious food.

Travelers can enjoy a sustainable trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, as long as they do their research during their travel planning; a travel advisor who specializes in the destination or in sustainable travel can aid travelers in making the choices that are right for them.

To learn more about the U.S. Virgin Islands’ sustainable travel options, please contact an advisor or visit the islands’ tourism website.





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US Virgin Islands Eases COVID-19 Travel Requirements


The U.S. Virgin Islands is easing entry protocols for Americans this spring.

As of March 7, travelers who are fully vaccinated in the U.S. and the USVI can submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination and are no longer required to provide a negative test for entry.

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Reopening from COVID-19

The USVI considers travelers fully vaccinated if they have received the following vaccines and at least 14 days have passed since their required dosage: Johnson and Johnson (minimum one shot); Moderna (minimum two shots); Pfizer/BioNTech (minimum two shots); AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine (minimum two shots); Sinopharm (minimum two shots); Sinovac (minimum two shots); COVAXIN (minimum two shots); Covovax (minimum two shots) and Nuvaxovid (minimum two shots).

“Safety has always been and continues to be our first concern for both residents and visitors of the USVI. As we closely monitor the COVID-19 cases within the territory, we continue to see a trend of declining positive cases which gives us an optimistic outlook on the future of tourism in the destination and the confidence to loosen the restrictions on visitation from the U.S.” Commissioner Joseph B. Boschulte of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Department of Tourism, said in a statement. “We are hopeful that these new requirements through our user-friendly portal will give travelers the confidence that their health is our top priority.”

Unvaccinated travelers arriving from the U.S. mainland will still need to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within five days of travel through the USVI Travel Screening Portal for travel clearance. Approved visitors will receive a green QR confirmation code via email for entry. Meanwhile, international travelers aged 18 and older arriving in the islands will require proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test regardless of vaccination status and citizenship.

Mask mandates remain in effect for inside venues throughout the islands.





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Virgin signs deal to produce lower carbon fuel


Virgin Group has signed a new partnership aimed at producing lower carbon fuel, which could be used to power Virgin Atlantic flights.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which owns 51 per cent of Virgin Atlantic, is to work with chemical conversion technology company Agilyx to research and develop processes to turn plastic waste into a fuel producing a lower level of emissions.

The group expects Virgin Atlantic and other Virgin companies to be early adopters of any new fuel, as part of the company’s plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.  

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said: “Clearing the skies for tomorrow requires radical collaboration across innovators, producers, investors and airlines.  

“We are delighted that Virgin Group and Agilyx are leading the charge to pilot new pathways in lower carbon fuels and we look forward to working closely with them to achieve our 10 per cent SAF target by 2030.”

The latest announcement comes after Virgin Atlantic last week agreed its first commercial deal to receive supplies of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Rival carrier British Airways has also stepped up its efforts to use more SAF through a multi-year agreement with Phillips 66 Limited, which operates a refinery in Lincolnshire. The fuel will be used to power some BA flights this year.



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