Government of the United States Virgin Islands

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19. The territory is now in the "Stay at Home" Phase of its COVID-19 path to a new normal.

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The official site of the United States Virgin Islands GOVERNMENT

February 2020  Governor Albert Bryan Jr. establishes a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force led by Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and comprising Cabinet members, agency officials, and disease specialists. 

March 13, 2020 – Governor Bryan declares a state of emergency for the United States Virgin Islands. Among other actions, the declaration places a moratorium on permits for mass gatherings and cancels the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day parade on St. Croix.

March 13, 2020 – Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Richard Evangelista institutes a price freeze until further notice.

March 16, 2020 – On the authority granted to him under the state of emergency, the Governor announces he is closing all public schools through April 14. On the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virgin Islands Department of Health, the Governor also bans gatherings of more than 50 people and postpones the USVI Carnival.

March 16 – The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services asks all senior citizens to sign up for the Emergency Assistance Senior Registry.

March 17, 2020 – The Bureau of Motor Vehicles institutes new procedures to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including limiting the number of customers permitted at any given time and online vehicle registration.

March 18, 2020 – The Governor directs commissioners and directors to implement different telework, flexible work schedules, and social distancing practices until further notice.

March 19, 2020 – The Department of Labor clarifies that employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits.

March 19, 2020 – During a press conference to update residents on the territory’s response to COVID-19, the Governor cites CDC guidelines and asks residents to restrict gatherings to 10 persons and practice social distancing. He also asks bars and restaurants to limit service to take-out and pick-up and asks non-essential businesses to limit operations.

March 20, 2020 – Governor Bryan requests a Disaster Declaration from the Small Business Administration to mitigate COVID-19, which the Small Business Administration grants the following day.

March 20, 2020 – The Governor sends proposed legislation down to the V.I. Legislature requesting emergency authorization to use public funds and issue bonds and revenue anticipation notes for up to $60 million to fight COVID-19 in the USVI.

March 21, 2020 – Governor Bryan advises residents to stay at home and all non-essential businesses to close.

March 23, 2020 – The Governor issues a “stay-at-home” order and orders all non-essential businesses to remain closed, beginning March 25, 2020. The order also officially limits gatherings to 10 persons or fewer, closes all bars, prohibits restaurants from offering dining room service, and limits taxis and safaris to half-capacity passenger loads. The order also limits the Government of the Virgin Islands to non-essential operations, suspends all landlord requests for rent and/or evictions, and allows Government employee retirees to re-enter the workforce with having to sacrifice their retirement benefits.

March 24, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Tourism Department says it is temporarily closing.

March 25, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Department of Education announces it will begin distributing breakfast and lunch on March 26 to students attending all public, private and parochial schools in its “No V.I. Child Goes Hungry” feeding initiative.

March 26 – Government of the Virgin Islands agencies and departments change their operations to suspend in-person services, and instead direct residents to their websites to keep Government obligations and services active.

March 26 – Governor Bryan hosts an informal town hall meeting with residents via social media; thousands of residents participate.

March 27 – During a press conference to update residents on the USVI’s response to the COVID-19 Virus, Governor Bryan announces that 12 pallets of medical supplies related to COVID-19 containment have arrived in the territory and says more are on the way. He also says the number of cases of COVID-19 in the Territory has risen to 30; however, about two-thirds of the samples test negative for the virus.

March 27 – The Governor issues a proclamation calling for a “Day of Prayer” in the USVI.

March 28-29 – Governor Bryan and First Lady Yolanda Bryan host a “Day of Prayer, Fasting, and Reflection,” with more than two dozen clergy involved and 5-minute prayers broadcast on radio stations throughout the territory every hour for 24 hours.

March 30 – Governor Bryan issues a third executive order that extends the stay-at-home directive and the closure of non-essential businesses to April 30. Additionally, the new order requires closure of beach restaurants.

April 1 – The Governor announces that the territory received testing materials to do the tests locally and be able to have the results back in 24 hours or less. He also announces a second shipment of medical supplies arrived.

April 2 – President Donald Trump approves a Major Disaster Declaration for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which opens the door to getting federal assistance to mitigate the COVID-19 virus.

April 2 – The Law Enforcement Planning Commission announces $2.9 million in Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding that is earmarked for supporting first responders with equipment and other needs, as well as provide health care for inmates at the Bureau of Corrections.

April 3 – Governor Bryan urges local business owners to take advantage of the U.S. Small Business Association’s “Paycheck Protection Program,” which will provide loans to businesses so they can keep their employees on the payroll.

April 5 – The V.I. Health Department announces the territory’s first death from COVID-19: an 85-year-old male St. Thomas resident with underlying medical conditions who unknowingly came into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case that traveled to the island from Anguilla.

April 6 – Governor Bryan closes all beaches in the Territory through April 20.

April 7  Government of the Virgin Islands agencies and departments continue adjusting their operations to provide vital services to residents of the territory.

April 8  In his last press briefing before the long Easter holiday, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. clarifies for residents the powers and authorizations of sworn peace officers during a state of emergency.

April 9  The Governor updates residents on the efforts of his Marine Task Force, an appointed group of stakeholders from the Marine industry, to track all boats moored in Territorial waters. The number of boaters moored in the USVI has increased dramatically as people try to flee COVID-19 in other jurisdictions.

April 10  The Anderson Stewart Family Foundation, a local 501(c)3 organization, gives the USVI a $1 million grant to fight COVID-19.

April 13  Governor Bryan announces that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs has given the U.S. Virgin Islands $7,863,776 in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act federal COVID-19 stimulus bill.

April 13  The Federal Aviation Administration awards the U.S. Virgin Islands $41,145,247 to maintain the territory’s airports as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act federal stimulus bill.

April 14 – The Governor signs into law legislation authorizing his Administration to issue Revenue Anticipation Notes up to $120 million to fight COVID-19.

April 15 – Governor Bryan announces that the Government of the Virgin Islands will subsidize ratepayers of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority by providing credits to their accounts of $250 for individuals and $500 for businesses.

April 16 – Governor Bryan sends a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer requesting additional federal assistance to help offset the devastating loss of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Tourism industry.

April 17  During a press conference, the Governor addresses the transportation issues facing disabled and elderly residents and says he is considering using the VITRAN public bus system, which has suspended services, and enlisting private taxi services to help those residents run their daily errands. The Governor also announces the second fatality in the Territory from COVID-19: 72-year-old St. Thomas woman with a history of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

April 18 – The Virgin Islands National Guard begins construction at its Regional Training Institute on St. Croix to repurpose it as a quarantine center for COVID-19 patients.

April 20 – Governor Bryan issues a fifth supplemental Executive Order that reopens the public beaches in the territory.

April 20 – During his COVID-19 update to the public, Governor Bryan announces the third death from COVID-19, a 77-year-old man from St. Croix with an underlying history of health issues and who had recently traveled from Florida.

April 21 – The Office of Management and Budget institutes the state-of-the-art grants management system eCivis across all agencies and departments in the Government of the Virgin Islands. The system tracks grants from inception to payout and closure.

April 22 – Governor Bryan announces that his Administration received $75 million from the federal CARES Act, which will allow for the Government of the Virgin Islands to provide a subsidy for V.I. Water and Power Authority ratepayers, assist the passenger ferry operators, which have cut back their passenger loads for social distancing, and to offer transportation assistance for disabled and elderly residents.

April 23 – Governor Bryan’s “rent freeze” begins as per his fifth supplemental executive order and will be in effect for the duration of the state of emergency.

April 24 – Governor Bryan announces that his Administration is pursuing several avenues to provide additional health care staffing and is in final negotiations with Doctors Without Borders, the Islamic Medical Association and other programs to bring physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, infection specialists and others to bolster our team

April 25 – The Virgin Islands Energy Office issues an advisory telling residents how they can conserve power during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 26 – Governor Bryan’s Administration continues to stockpile resources and supplies to fight the spread of the virus, and the territory is awaiting the delivery of additional ventilators Personal Protective Equipment, including overalls, face-shields, 60,000 regular masks and 50,000 N-95 masks.

April 27 – Governor Bryan formally announces the YES Program (Your Energy Stimulus) for customers of the V.I. Water and Power Authority, which will provide a $250 credit to each residential account and a $500 credit for each commercial account.

April 27 – Governor Bryan announces the territory’s fourth fatality from COVID-19, a 67-year-old St. Croix woman who died in her home and had not been hospitalized and tested positive for the virus after her death.

April 28 ­– Virgin Islands business owners resume applying for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers businesses loans that will be forgiven if the company keeps all employees on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for rent, mortgage interest or utilities. To date, 240 Virgin Islands businesses have received more than $62 million under the PPP.

April 29 – In observance of the hard work and dedication of the front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Bryan issues an executive order approving administrative leave for non-essential government employees to commemorate Carnival on St. Thomas, which was cancelled this year because of the coronavirus outbreak

April 30 – Governor Bryan begins implementing a sixth supplemental executive order that outlines the conditions regulating the territory’s anticipated move to the next phase – called “Safer at Home” – of reopening the territory’s economy. The “Safer At Home” order will become effective on May 4 and be used as the guidelines for reopening the territory’s non-essential businesses.

May 1 – The U.S. Virgin Islands reaches the milestone of having 1 percent of its residents tested for COVID-19.

May 2 – Graphic versions of the color-coded phases are made available to residents and businesses and showing Governor Bryan’s path to a New Normal.

May 3 – Residents and businesses prepare for Governor Bryan’s “No Mask, No Service” order requiring all patrons of businesses to wear masks and all employees interacting with the public also to wear masks.

May 4 ­– The first day of the “Safer at Home” phase of reopening the territory begins.

May 5 ­– The Government of the Virgin Islands partners with Google to prioritize accurate local COVID-19 information when residents use the Google search engine.

May 6 – The Government of the Virgin Islands receives $84.7 million from the Internal Revenue Service and begins the rollout of federal stimulus checks to eligible residents.

May 7 – During his COVID-19 update to residents, Governor Bryan says the territory has received the money from the IRS for residents’ stimulus checks, which will begin rolling out the following week.

Governor Bryan also announces he is easing of some conditions of the “Safer at Home” reopening phase and will allow hotels to book reservations for local residents and business travelers and dive shops, day sails and other excursions will be allowed to reopen.

May 7 – Governor Bryan announces the death of the territory’s fifth COVID-19 patient: The 72-year-old husband of the 67-year-old St. Croix woman who died in her home and had not been hospitalized.

May 7 – The 33rd Legislature unanimously approves Governor Bryan’s request for a 60-day extension to the State of Emergency, which moves the expiration date to July 12.

May 8 – The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the Virgin Islands Department of Labor a $1.5 million National Dislocated Worker Grant to provide disaster-relief employment, along with employment training and service. The grant is funded under the federal CARES Act, which provided $345 million for Dislocated Worker Grants to help address workforce-related impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 8 – Governor Albert Bryan’s COVID-19 task force, led by Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, announces that it is working closely with Limetree Bay Terminals to enforce protocols in place to ensure new contract workers and contract workers returning to St. Croix from the U.S. Mainland are adequately screened and monitored for COVID-19. The protocols set for returning contractors include a pre-approval for travel by Limetree and a requirement to provide the Department of Health with their on-island address and flight itinerary prior to arrival.

May 9 – Governor Bryan’s COVID-19 Task Force announces that an individual suffering respiratory distress aboard a vessel at sea is one of the territory’s latest COVID positive patients. The individual, who is brought to St. Thomas and immediately placed under quarantine at Schneider Regional Medical Center in critical condition was admitted after the vessel that individual was aboard was denied entry into Puerto Rico.

May 10 – The Territory receives $485,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for two clinics in the territory to expand their testing capabilities. The Frederiksted Health Clinic on St. Croix receives $275,719 and the East End Medical Center on St. Thomas receives $209,149.  

May 11 – Governor Bryan announces that a case of the COVID-19 drug Remdesivir is being sent to the territory. It is a limited supply, but Governor Bryan said more of the drug will be sent to the territory when production is increased. Governor Bryan also announces that the first round of stimulus checks – between $8 million and $10 million – are being mailed out.

May 12 – USVI records its sixth COVID-19 death. The deceased is a male resident of St. Croix and a close relative of the husband and wife, who were the fourth and fifth victims.

May 12 – The V.I. Veterans Affairs Office begins testing veterans for COVID-19 in the Territory through the VA Caribbean Healthcare System, with 50 veterans on St. Croix being tested on the first day.

May 13 – Governor Bryan announces that he has signed into law the 60-day extension to the State of Emergency order that was approved by the 33rd Legislature and a bill allowing all eligible voters in the Territory to vote by absentee ballot to avoid possible contact with persons infected with COVID-19.

May 14 – The V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs announces that the Methodist Training and Outreach Center was awarded additional funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program to serve homeless veterans through the CARES Act. This funding is to be used to immediately meet the needs of homeless veterans or those veterans who may be facing homelessness through the loss of current housing.

May 15 – BMV says it will reopen and provide all services, except road tests and written tests for the learner’s permit. Residents can drop off all required paperwork in a lock box and the BMV will call them when their documents or stickers are ready to be picked up.

May 16 – The Virgin Islands Finance Department issues two sets of stimulus checks during the week. The 6,271 checks total $9.9 million dollars.

May 17 – The Virgin Islands Judiciary System announces it will expand the types of cases that will be eligible for remote hearings beyond matters that are emergencies or that have been expedited.

May 18 – Governor Bryan announces that the Social Security Administration reaches an agreement with the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide data about Social Security recipients that will enable the Territory to distribute stimulus checks to the beneficiaries without their having to file a 2018 income tax return for informational purposes.

May 19 – Governor Bryan resubmits the amended Cannabis Use Act and urges the 33rd Legislature to act expeditiously on it so the Territory can begin tapping into a new revenue stream that will help restart the economy in the USVI and shore up its Government Employees Retirement System.

May 20 – Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas partially reopens and begins scheduling non-high risk patients for elective procedures while keeping in place strict social distancing and safety protocols, such as screening all who enter the facility for COVID-19 and requiring the use of cloth face masks.

May 21 – Governor Bryan announces he will ease restrictions on bars and restaurants, allowing bars to reopen and restaurants to serve dine-in customers beginning the Tuesday after Memorial Day. All bar and restaurant employees must wear face coverings, restaurants must put tables 6 feet apart and can only operate at 50 percent of their dine-in capacity and bar stools must be spaced 6 feet apart.

May 22 – The U.S. Virgin Islands joins other states and territories in flying flags at half-mast for three days in remembrance of the victims who died of the COVID-19 virus.

May 23 – The Virgin Islands Department of Education announces the schedule for virtual graduation ceremonies in the Territory. The pre-recorded ceremonies will be livestreamed on the department’s Facebook page and broadcast on local TV channels and feature video messages from the top students at each high school

May 24 – The American Cancer Society’s annual “Relay for Life” fundraiser on St. Croix is postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the highlights of the Memorial Day weekend, the Relay is postponed until October.

May 25 – The Virgin Islands Department of Labor begins ramping up distribution of benefits from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program to local recipients of unemployment checks. The program provides an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits and is retroactive to April 4.

May 26 – Following Memorial Day weekend, restrictions on bars and restaurants are officially lifted. Restaurants are allowed to serve dine-in customers at 50% occupancy or 50 customers, whichever is less, and bars are allowed to reopen as long as bar stools are placed 6 feet apart.

May 27 – Governor Bryan announces the formation of the V.I. Healthy Housing Initiative in partnership with the Corporation for Supportive Housing to assess housing and healthcare needs in four key areas: Behavioral Health; Youth Rehabilitation Services; Supportive Housing; and Elder Care Services.

May 28 – During his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan announces the Territory will move to the “Open Doors” phase of reopening the Territory. In addition to allowing all business to reopen, the Governor’s executive order allows hotels, villas and Airbnb vendors to begin taking reservations and lifts restrictions on hospitality-related businesses. Thermal scanners are being installed at the airports and other measures are put into place to track visitors and their health.

May 29 – Governor Bryan delivers the Fiscal Year 2021 Executive Budget Proposal to the 33rd Legislature, two days before the deadline of May 31 mandated by law. The Governor says revenues will be significantly reduce by $126 million because of COVID-19.

May 30 – In May, the V.I. Water and Power Authority issues 34,875 credits to ratepayers through the Government of the Virgin islands YES program, which is funded with federal monies from the CARES Act. The Authority issued $10 million through 5,461 credits of $500 to commercial ratepayers and 29,414 credits of $250 to residential customers.

June 1 – The “Open Doors” phase of the Territory’s economic recovery from COVID-19 officially begins… on the same day that Hurricane Season officially begins. Almost all of the restrictions imposed on businesses and the hospitality industry are lifted, although facial coverings are required for all businesses and their customers under Governor Bryan’s “No Mask, No Service” order.

June 2 – The Spring Revenue Estimating Conference, which had been delayed by COVID-19, takes place and reveals the scope and impact the pandemic has had on the Territory’s economy. Initial revenue projections for 2020 revenue of $868.9 million are adjusted downward to $718.3 million.

June 3 – The University of the Virgin islands conducts virtual open house tours for parents and prospective students. The event is hosted live on UVI’s Facebook page and via a 90-minute Zoom video call.

June 4 – Spirit Airlines announces it is resuming flights to the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.

June 5 – Governor Bryan convenes the third meeting of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Committee to talk about what the post-COVID-19 economy will look like in the Virgin Islands. The CEDS Committee is comprised of representatives of the business community, the Tourism sector and non-profits, members of Governor Bryan’s Cabinet and other community stakeholders.

June 6 – The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs announces that restrictions against live music will be lifted. Bands or DJs must set up with at least a 10-foot space from patrons, and live bands or DJs are prohibited in public spaces.

June 7 – After the first week of Governor Bryan’s “Open Doors” phase of the Territory’s reopening, Government agencies begin adjusting back to normal operations and pre-COVID-19 hours.

June 8 – During his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan announces that the Virgin Islands Department of Finance has issued 28,263 stimulus checks totaling $45.9 million.

June 9 – The Virgin Islands Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation announces a series of virtual summer camps, including online classes in beginner and intermediate dance; cultural arts and crafts; visual arts; and fundamentals of volleyball, basketball and baseball. Instructors will stream live on Facebook and Zoom daily.

June 10 – The Virgin Islands Department of Education announces a series of virtual town hall meetings to give residents updates on the status of new schools construction.

June 12 – The Virgin islands Department of Human Services announces federal approval of a Pandemic-EBT plan to provide food assistance to approximately 15,000 children and deliver more than $5.6 million to the Territory.

June 15 – After giving his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan announces “Healthier Horizons,” which is a sweeping reform of the Virgin Islands’ healthcare system comprising 11 different initiatives, including submitted legislation for the Behavioral Health and developmental Disabilities Act; merging the V.I. Fire Service and Emergency Medical Services; a health information exchange; telemedicine; a Healthy Housing initiative; and legislation to allow medicinal cannabis.

June 18 – Governor Bryan announces his annual “Summer Reading Challenge,” which will be conducted virtually through online book borrowing. The V.I. Department of Education partnered with openlibrary.org to provide books for free to Virgin Islands students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

June 19 – Education Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin provides the first in a series of updates on the reopening of public school buildings for the 2020-2021 school year.

June 21 – The Department of Health announces five new cases of COVID-19 in the Territory, including the first community-acquired case on St. John. This brings the territory’s total confirmed cases to 76 — 33 on Croix, 39 on St. Thomas, and 4 on St. John.

June 22 – Governor Bryan submits legislation for an amended version of the Revenue Anticipation Note he submitted in March. The $60 million the Governor is requesting will be used to supplement government operations in the wake of the financial devastation in the Territory from the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 23 – The Education Department’s School Food Authority begins its Summer Food Service Program for students in the Territory who can pick up meals at their designated schools at designated times.

June 29 – During his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan says he is not planning to close the beaches for the long July 4th weekend, but he reminded residents to “Mask Up” if they plan to celebrate the holiday at the beach or elsewhere.

July 1 – Governor Bryan requests that the 33rd Legislature approve a 60-day extension to the State of Emergency order.

July 2 – As a second wave of COVID-19 cases begin to surge in the Territory, Governor Bryan orders beaches to close at 4 p.m. for the July Fourth weekend and bars to stop serving alcohol and retail stores to stop selling alcohol at 11 p.m. until further notice.

July 5 – Governor Bryan meets with officials at Limetree Bay Refinery on St. Croix to address the continuing surge of Coronavirus cases, which appear to be originating from contract workers from the mainland living in the Limetree Bay “Man Camp.”

July 6 –  As the sure in COVID-19 cases explodes on the U.S. mainland, Governor Bryan institutes restrictions for travelers arriving from Florida, Texas and Arizona, who must present proof of a negative COVID test upon arrival or go into 14-day quarantine.

July 7 – Governor Bryan and officials from the Department of Education present details of the school system’s Master facility Plan.

July 8 – Limetree Bay strengthens its protocols to screen for coronavirus among its workers to address the continuing increase in the number of cases.

July 9 – Governor Bryan tightens restrictions on travelers and sets a 10% positivity rate as the threshold, affecting visitors from any state at that rate or higher, which at this point are: Alabama; Arizona; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Kansas; Mississippi; Nevada; South Carolina; and Texas.

July 13 – Because of the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases in the USVI, Governor Bryan delays the opening of the schools from August 10 to at least September 8.

July 16 – Governor Bryan and Education Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin detail the plan to reopen the Territory’s schools. The plan calls for a hybrid of in-class and distance learning, and the territory is awaiting delivery of thousands of laptops to distribute to students.

July 17 – Governor Bryan issues an executive order granting high school graduates a supplemental scholarship of $1,000 because of hardships that resulted from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Territory’s residents and the education system.

July 20 – During his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan says the Government of the Virgin islands is “running on fumes” and details the aggressive lobbying he is doing with members of Congress and the federal government to keep the Virgin islands on the agenda while Congress puts together a new stimulus package.