The U.S. Virgin Islands announced on Tuesday that it was loosening its COVID-19 test mandate for travelers entering the territory, requiring that travelers present a negative coronavirus test taken within five days prior to arrival, rather than 72 hours.
The new requirements, which took effect on Wednesday, also allow travelers to show proof of a U.S. Virgin Islands vaccine record to enter 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,” Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach announced 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,” he added.
The loosened restrictions come as the number of active COVID-19 cases in the territory have decreased.
A total of 473 active cases were reported in the Virgin Islands on Tuesday, which was significantly less than the more than 3,000 infections reported early last month, according to the territory’s COVID-19 report.
Roach also said any individuals between the ages of five and 15 would receive a $250 Visa gift card if they receive the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine by March 11. The giveaway started on Jan. 31.
Additionally, children who had already completed their vaccination series will receive a $250 gift card.
The lieutenant governor said that only 23 percent of the youth population has been inoculated against COVID-19 despite the jab being made available to children as young as five last year.
“It is a healthy start but nowhere near where we need to be,” Roach 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,” he added.
Roach on Tuesday also announced that the number of deaths in the Virgin Islands had exceeded 100.
“It is a sobering reminder of the threat this virus still poses to all of us, especially those who are not yet fully vaccinated,” he said.