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Bryan To Open Beaches On Monday: ‘Beachgoers Will Swim At Their Own Risk’

CHRISTIANSTED — During Friday’s COVID-19 update at Government House, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. said he plans to reopen the territory’s beaches on Monday.

But Bryan cautioned residents who plan to go to a beach to remain mindful of social and physical distancing guidelines and to have plenty of space between families at the beach.

Bryan also gave his condolences to the family and friends of the St. Thomas woman who became the second person in the territory to die of COVID-19.

The woman was 72 and had underlying health maladies and contracted the virus through community spread, according to Government House.

As of Friday morning, 458 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 in the territory, with 373 tests coming back negative, 51 testing positive and 34 tests pending. Of those testing positive, 46 persons have recovered and three people have died. The Virgin Islands Department of Health currently is tracking two active cases.

Regarding the reopening of the beaches, Bryan said water quality testing will not become available until later next week.

“Beachgoers will be swimming at their own risks,” he said. “We ask that you be especially cautious in the waters that have been recently visited by boaters. As soon as they are able, DPNR will provide a beach update.”

The governor also reiterated that the prohibition of congregations of more than 10 people is still in effect.

“I am encouraging you to keep your family as far away as possible from everyone else’s family,” Bryan said. “If we are unable to self-regulate our use of the beaches, I will have no choice but to order them closed again. In order to limit mass gatherings at our beaches, beach bars and restaurants are to remain closed.”

The governor also addressed current discussions the White House is having with U.S. governors about developing a plan to reopen the country.

“This guidance provides a very useful framework for us as we contemplate those decisions locally,” he said. “We will provide more information on those decisions in the coming days.”

The plight of elderly and disabled residents was also addressed by Bryan, who said he has heard many complaints from them about the difficulty in finding transportation to run daily errands.

“We are mindful of this concern, and we are looking at two possibilities: opening up VITRAN services or contracting with private taxi companies,” he said.

Bryan implored the community to take an active part in helping stop the recent spate of violence by reporting, anonymously if preferred, any criminal activity to law enforcement.

“We had a spate of violent crime on the island of St. Thomas,” he said. “At a time when the community needs to work together to fight against a common enemy, this is a sad and disappointing turn of events.”

Bryan asked the community to help identify the perpetrators, their co-conspirators and their motives.

“If you know something, say something,” the governor said. “If you are unwilling to contact the VIPD directly, then call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.”

Bryan’s next COVID-19 briefing is tentatively scheduled for Monday.

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