CHRISTIANSTED — During his weekly briefing today Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. outlined the “Safer-at-Home” phase of the territory’s COVID-19 path to a new normal.
Bryan’s Safer-at-Home order, which went into effect early today, allows for some non-essential businesses to resume operations as long as they adhere to the safety guideline issued by the CDC and our local Department of Health.
No Mask, No Service
• All residents who wish to patronize any business must wear a face mask. The only exceptions are children younger than 2 or residents with acute respiratory issues.
• Ski masks are prohibited indoors and outdoors as a means of addressing the need for a mask in commercial establishments.
• Taxis, safaris and cars for hire are considered commercial establishments and all occupants must have masks.
• Free “No Mask, No Service” signs for businesses will be available from the Department of Property and Procurement offices and Department of Consumer Affairs offices in both districts.
• “Safer at Home” rules have been adjusted to allow religious leaders to give their sermons without masks as long as they stay at least 10 feet away from the congregation.
• The public is asked to report businesses in violation of the “No Mask, No Service” policy by calling DLCA at 340-713-3522 on St. Croix and 340-714-3522 on St. Thomas.
Non-essential businesses allowed to reopen, pending their ability to follow social distancing and safety guidelines as proscribed by the CDC and the Virgin Islands Department of Health, include:
• Hair salons
• Massage therapists
• Private health care facilities for elective medical visits
Caribbean Cinemas does not anticipate opening before June 1, and Tropical Ten Pins also is not ready to reopen yet and still is developing its protocols. Chicken and Bowling has gone out of business and will not reopen.
Pandemic EBT cards
• Funds from the federal CARES Act have been made available to children who participate in the school lunch program for extra food benefits, called Pandemic EBT, or P-EBT, and will be about $300 per child.
• Families will receive a P-EBT card for each eligible child to be used on food and groceries, and the program is administered through the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services.
• All children attending public schools are eligible to receive P-EBT cards.
• On Monday, the IRS has approved the Territory’s Economic Impact Payment Plan, which clears the way for funds to be transferred to the Territory’s treasury.
• The first round of checks are expected to be issued beginning next week.
• The territory still is awaiting approval from the Social Security Administration regarding the issuance directly to Social Security recipients. All Social Security recipients are being urged to file a 1040 form and more information is available from the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue at 340-773-1040.
Applications continue to be processed, and, to date, the Labor Department has processed 2,430 checks totaling $1.7 million.
• Currently tracking 11 active cases
• 1,046 individuals tested to date
• 965 of those tests were negative
• 66 tests came back positive
• 15 tests are pending
• Four deaths to date
• Three COVID-19 patients, including one on a ventilator, are hospitalized at Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix and one patient is hospitalized at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.
• Last week, 130 individuals were tested and all 130 tested negative.
• To date, one percent of the territory’s population have been tested.