Beaches To Remain Open Until 5 PM On Weekends, Restaurants Can Seat More Customers Starting March 8
CHRISTIANSTED — During today’s Government House weekly press briefing, Governor Albert Bryan announced that some COVID-19 restrictions on local businesses will be relaxed starting next Monday.
Beginning March 8, beaches can remain open until 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and taxis can transport more than the 50 percent capacity limit if all the passengers are part of the same family or group.
In addition, restaurants can now seat up to 75 percent of their approved seating capacity, and they can seat more than six people at the same table if they are all in the same party.
Masking requirements and social distancing remain in effect.
“All other guidelines remain in effect, Bryan said. “However, as we move forward with out vaccination strategy and toward herd immunity, we will also consider easing those as well.
Bryan also addressed the violence that occurred on St. Croix during the weekend that left 13 people injured by gunfire and five people dead.
“There are few words to express the outrage and hurt our community feels this morning because of the callous and reckless actions of those who chose to reign terror on our streets over the weekend,” he said. “But if we are honest, this weekend is emblematic of a culture that we, as a community, have for more than 30 years allowed to snowball into this avalanche of violence.”
Bryan said that the community enables the violence by expressing shock and addressing anger at everyone except for those people who pull the triggers.
“When we make their heinous acts less about what they have done and more about our police and first-responders, we absolve them of responsibility and embolden them to inflict more pain in the community,” the governor said. “I resolve to remember a time in our Virgin Islands when the village meant more than me and mine, and when it was ‘all ah we.’ I have faith that we will get there again. We just have to do our part and take ownership of our place in this village.”
Bryan urged any residents who have any information about the shootings to call the Virgin Islands Police Department at 340-778-4950 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8487).
Community Vaccination Centers
As of Monday, March 1, the territory entered Phase 3 of its vaccination strategy with the opening of the Community Vaccination Centers in each district. Access to the COVID-19 is open to Virgin Islanders who are 16 and older.
“This is our latest step toward our goal of having half the population, or 50,000 people, vaccinated by July 1,” he said. “I know there are many in our community who, in the words of Vice President Kamala Harris, have a ‘righteous skepticism’ toward these and other vaccines, but it is the best shot you can take to protect yourself and the best shot we have as a community toward normalcy.”
On St. Thomas, the Community Vaccination Center is at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center, and on St. Croix, is at UVI’s Great Hall. The Centers are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and residents can schedule an appointment by calling the VITEMA vaccination hotline at 340-777-VACS (8227)
The Virgin Islands Department of Education is phasing on the reopening of public schools, starting in the St. Croix District for students in pre-K, first grade, special education and Career and Technical education students, beginning Tuesday, March 2.
On Tuesday, March 9 second- and third-grade students on St. Croix will resume their in-class education. The schedule is as follows:
- 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
- Pearl B. Larsen
- Juanita Gardine
- Eulalie R.R. Rivera
- Arthur A. Richards
- 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Ricardo Richards
- Lew Muckle
- Alfredo Andrews
- Claude O. Markoe
- 8 a.m. 3:30 p.m.
- Career and Technical Education Center
Temperature checks will be conducted before students enter the campus and masks are to be work at all times. General education studies for students in grades 4-12 will remain virtual until further notice.
Private and parochial schools funding
The governor has designated authorized CARES Act funding to help offset the financial hardships of the territory’s private and parochial schools, many of which have been conducting virtual learning since the beginning of the school year in August.
The funding will be based on the school’s student population and will amount to approximately $1,300 per student. More details will be available as the implementation of the program moves closer.
Bryan also said that the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue continue to mail out stimulus checks.
Residents who have not yet filed a 2019 income tax return have until Monday, March 15 to do so to be eligible for a stimulus payment. Residents who are not tax filers can file a 2019 form 1040 and annotate $1 on the interest line of the form.
Social Security recipients who received the first stimulus payment do not need to file anything further or do anything else, and the second round of stimulus payments will be mailed to them automatically.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue also has established a hotline (340) 714-9325 – to assist in responding to the high volume of calls be residents with questions about the stimulus checks.
- 14,221 first doses
- 6,786 second doses
- 21,007 total doses administered
Anyone who thinks they may have contracted COVID-19 can call the Epidemiology hotline at (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519. For more information, visit covid19usvi.com
For information about the COVID-19 vaccines, call the VITEMA hotline Mondays-Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at (340) 777-VACS (8227).
Pop-Up testing sites
This week, pop-up testing sites will be at the following locations:
- Home Depot on St. Thomas on Tuesday, March 2, from 1 to 3 p.m.
- Canegata Rec Center on St. Croix on Tuesday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- The V.I. Port Authority Gravel Yard on St. John on Wednesday, March 3, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
- Buddhoe Park on St. Croix on Thursday,March 4, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Fort Christian parking lot on St. Thomas on Thursday, March 4, from 1 to 3 p.m.
- Currently tracking 110 active cases.
- 47,981 individuals tested to date.
- 45,225 of those tests were negative.
- 2,646 tests came back positive.
- 2,511 people have recovered.
- 25 deaths.
- Four COVID-19 patients currently are hospitalized, with one patient on a ventilator, at Juan F. Luis Medical Center on St. Croix.
- One COVID-19 patient is currently hospitalized at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.