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What's Going on at 538?

A U.S. Territory Loosens COVID-19 Testing Mandate for Visitors

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

This week, I covered how the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that countries should not lift their restrictions surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus and emphasized that vaccines alone are not the solution to the pandemic. However, one United States territory announced that it would ease restrictions surrounding COVID-19 after their number of positive cases dropped.

The U.S. Virgin Islands announced on Tuesday that it will loosen its Wuhan coronavirus testing mandate for travelers entering the territory. Travelers will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 5 days of arrival rather than its previous regulation, which was 72 hours.

The updated testing requirement took effect Wednesday. Travelers who possess a U.S. Virgin Islands vaccination card are exempt from the testing requirement. 

“If you are traveling into the Territory after tomorrow, you are no longer required to have a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours for entry into the Territory.

“So, if you are traveling into the Territory after tomorrow, you are no longer required to have a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours for entry into the Territory,” the USVU Lieutenant Governor Tregenza A. Roach said in a press release on Tuesday. “All you would need is either a negative PCR or Antigen test taken with 5 days of the date of your travel, or proof of vaccination within the USVI.”

Roach’s office also announced a $250 incentive for minors ages 5 to 15 to get vaccinated. 

“Since we made the vaccine available in May for 12- to 15-year-olds and in November for 5- to 11-year-olds, only 23 percent of our youth population has been vaccinated. It is a healthy start but nowhere near where we need to be,” the Lieutenant Governor said. “As our public-school students across the territory return to classrooms for in-person instruction, it is even more critical that our numbers increase for this population. The COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective tool to protect against the deadly coronavirus and the variants that will arise.”

Last month, as I covered, Sweden did away with its requirement that all travelers entering the country present a negative COVID-19 test. However, the country’s ban on non-essential travel stayed in place.

Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced updated guidelines on travel, as I reported. In January, over 20 countries were added to the CDC’s advisory list against travel due to rising cases of the virus.


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