Virgin Islands – Coronavirus Territory Actions

Governors are working closely with federal and local officials as well as private sector partners to address the threat of the novel coronavirus. This page lists select actions through 31 July 2020. It is not intended to be exhaustive but is meant to highlight key actions and resources that may inform other states and territories as they prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus. All state actions can be viewed here, or visit Coronavirus: What You Need To Know for additional information and resources.


Virgin Islands coronavirus update.

  • February 2020 – The Governor established a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force led by Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and comprising Cabinet members, agency officials and disease specialists. 
  • March 13, 2020 – The Governor declared 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 instituted a price freeze until further notice.
  • March 16, 2020 – The Governor announced the closure of all public schools through April 14. Under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virgin Islands Department of Health, the Governor also banned gatherings of more than 50 people and postponed the USVI Carnival.
  • March 16, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services asked all senior citizens to sign up for the Emergency Assistance Senior Registry.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced 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 directed commissioners and directors to implement different telework, flexible work schedules and social distancing practices until further notice.
  • March 19, 2020 – The Department of Labor clarified that employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits.
  • March 19, 2020 – The Governor, citing CDC guidelines, asked residents to restrict gatherings to 10 persons and practice social distancing. The Governor also asked bars and restaurants to limit service to take-out and pick-up and asks non-essential businesses to limit operations.
  • March 20, 2020 – The Governor requested 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 sent 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 advised residents to stay at home and all non-essential businesses to close.
  • March 23, 2020 – The Governor issued a “stay-at-home” order and orders all non-essential business 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 announced it’s temporary closure.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Department of Education announced 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, 2020 – Government of the Virgin Islands agencies and departments changed their operations to suspend in-person services, and instead direct residents to their websites to keep Government obligations and services active.
  • March 26, 2020 – Governor Bryan hosted an informal town hall meeting with residents via social media; thousands of residents participate.
  • March 27, 2020 – Governor Bryan issued a proclamation calling for a “Day of Prayer” in the USVI.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that 12 pallets of medical supplies related to COVID-19 containment have arrived in the Territory and says more are on the way.
  • March 28-29, 2020 – Governor Bryan and First Lady Yolanda Bryan hosted 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, 2020 – Governor Bryan issued 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, 2020 – The Governor announced 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 announced that a second shipment of medical supplies arrived.
  • April 2, 2020 – President Donald Trump approved 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, 2020 – The Law Enforcement Planning Commission announced $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, 2020 – Governor Bryan urged 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, 2020 – 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, 2020 – Governor Bryan closed all beaches in the Territory through April 20.
  • April 6, 2020 – The Governor announced agency changes to normal operations, including:
    • The suspension of in-person visitations at all correctional facilities;
    • The extension of the 2019 income tax filing deadline until July 15;
    • The closure of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles until May 4;
    • The closure of all public schools through April 30; and
    • The closure, adjusted hours, and minimized in-person services at various state offices.
  • April 7, 2020- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved the U.S. Virgin Islands’  request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver. The approved waiver enables U.S.V.I to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, lift prior authorization requirements, and extend fair hearing timelines.
  • April 8, 2020 – The Governor clarified for residents the powers and authorizations of sworn peace officers during a state of emergency.
  • April 9, 2020 – The Governor updated 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 9, 2020 – The Attorney General reminded residents that willful violators of emergency executive orders can face criminal consequences.
  • April 9, 2020 – The Department of Human Services announced that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will issue additional SNAP benefits during April and May.
  • April 10, 2020 – The Governor and the Anderson Stewart Family Foundation announced a $1 million grant given to the Department of Health for equipment and provision of services.
  • April 13, 2020 – Governor Bryan announced 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, 2020 – The Governor announced a $41 million award from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as part of the CARES Act, to maintain the Territory’s airports.
  • April 14, 2020 – The Governor signed into law legislation authorizing his Administration to issue Revenue Anticipation Notes up to $120 million to fight COVID-19.
  • April 15, 2020 – Governor Bryan announced 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, 2020 – Governor Bryan sent 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, 2020 – The Governor announced a plan to reopen the territory’s beaches on April 20.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Governor addressed transportation challenges facing disabled and elderly residents and said 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 announced 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, 2020 – The Virgin Islands National Guard began construction at its Regional Training Institute on St. Croix to repurpose it as a quarantine center for COVID-19 patients.
  • April 20, 2020 – The Governor issued a fifth supplemental Executive Order that will reopen the public beaches in the Territory.
  • April 20, 2020 – The Governor announced 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 travelled from Florida.
  • April 21, 2020 – The Office of Management and Budget instituted 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, 2020 – The Governor announced 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, 2020 – The Governor announced the beginning of a “rent freeze,” per his fifth supplemental executive order, to be in effect for the duration of the state of emergency.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor announced that his Administration will pursue 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 the Territory’s team.
  • April 25, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Energy Office issued an advisory, telling residents how they can conserve power during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • April 26, 2020 – The Governor’s administration announced continued efforts to stockpile resources and supplies to fight the spread of the virus.
    • The Governor also announced that 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, 2020 – The Governor announced the “Your Energy Stimulus” (YES) Program to grant $250 and $500 credits to the V.I. Water and Power Authority accounts of residents and businesses, respectively, during the state of emergency.
  • April 28, 2020 – The Governor announced the resumption of applications 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, 2020 – The Governor issued an executive order approving administrative leave for non-essential government employees to commemorate Carnival on St. Thomas, which was cancelled this year due to COVID-19.
  • April 29, 2020 – The Governor issued a “Safer at Home” order to go into effect on May 4. The order, which will transition the territory from its “Stay-At-Home” order, provides guidance regarding face masks, gatherings, and recreation facilities, among others. 
  • May 1, 2020 – The Governor announced that the USVI reached a milestone of having 1 percent of its residents tested for COVID-19.
  • May 2, 2020 – The Governor announced graphic versions of the color-coded phases available to residents and businesses, showing the Governor’s path to a New Normal.
  • May 3, 2020 – The Governor launched a “No Mask, No Service” order, requiring all patrons of businesses to wear masks and all employees interacting with the public to also wear masks.
  • May 4, 2020 – The Governor announced the beginning of the territory’s “Safer-at-Home” phase, allowing non-essential businesses to reopen and outlining requirements for masks and social distancing.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Governor announced a collaboration with Google to ensure Virgin Islands have access to reliable and timely information related to COVID-19. 
  • May 6, 2020 – The Government of the Virgin Islands received $84.7 million from the Internal Revenue Service and began the rollout of federal stimulus checks to eligible residents.
  • May 7, 2020 – The Governor announced eased restrictions during the territory’s “Safer at Home” phase of reopening. Under this phase, hotels can take reservations for residents and business travel, and dive shops, day sails, and excursions can operate under the same conditions as other non-essential businesses.
  • May 7, 2020 – The Governor announced that the Territory has received the money from the IRS for residents’ stimulus checks, which will begin rolling out the following week.
  • May 7, 2020 – The 33rd Legislature unanimously approved Governor Bryan’s request for a 60-day extension to the State of Emergency, extending the expiration date until July 12.
  • May 8, 2020 – The Governor announced that the U.S. Department of Labor awarded the Virgin Islands a $1.5 million National Dislocated Worker Grant to provide disaster relief employment.
  • May 8, 2020 – The Governor announced close coordination with Limetree Bay to enforce protocols to ensure that contract workers and workers returning to St. Croix from the U.S. Mainland are adequately screened and monitored.
  • May 8, 2020 – The Governor’s COVID-19 task force, led by Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, announced 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, 2020 – The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force announced that an individual suffering respiratory distress aboard a vessel at sea is one of the territory’s latest COVID positive patients. The individual, who was 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, 2020 – The Governor announced the receipt of $485,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for two clinics in the Territory to expand testing capabilities. The Frederiksted Health Clinic on St. Croix received $275,719 and the East End Medical Center on St. Thomas received $209,149.
  • May 11, 2020 – The Governor announced that the Territory will receive a case of the COVID-19 drug, Remdesivir.
  • May 11, 2020 – The Governor announced that the first round of stimulus checks – between $8 million and $10 million – are being mailed out.
  • May 12, 2020 – The Governor announced that the VA Caribbean Healthcare System will begin testing Veterans residing in the Virgin Islands.
  • May 12, 2020 – The V.I. Department of Health announced the sixth fatality from COVID-19: the 45-year-old son of the husband and wife who were the fourth and fifth victims to die of Coronavirus.
  • May 12, 2020 – The V.I. Veterans Affairs Office began 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, 2020 – Governor Bryan announced 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, 2020 – The V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs announced 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, 2020 – BMV said 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, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Finance Department issued two sets of stimulus checks during the week. The 6,271 checks total $9.9 million dollars.
  • May 17, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Judiciary System announced 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, 2020 – The Governor announced 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, 2020 – The Governor resubmitted the amended Cannabis Use Act and urged 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, 2020 – Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas partially reopened and began 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, 2020 – The Governor eased restrictions on bars and restaurants, permitting dine-in patrons and bars to reopen on May 26, under certain conditions.
  • May 23, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Department of Education announced 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, 2020 – The American Cancer Society announced that the annual Relay For Life fundraiser on St. Croix has been postponed until October.
  • May 25, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Department of Labor announced increased distribution of benefits from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program to local recipients of unemployment checks. The program will provide an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits and is retroactive to April 4.
  • May 26, 2020 – The Governor announced that, following Memorial Day weekend, restrictions on bars and restaurants will be lifted. Restaurants will be allowed to serve dine-in customers at 50% occupancy or 50 customers, whichever is less, and bars may reopen as long as bar stools are placed 6 feet apart.
  • May 27, 2020 – Governor Bryan announced 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, 2020 – During his weekly COVID-19 update, the Governor announced that 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 will allow hotels, villas and Airbnb vendors to begin taking reservations and lifts restrictions on hospitality-related businesses. Thermal scanners will be installed at the airports and other measures put into place to track visitors and their health.
  • May 28, 2020 – The Government announced that the territory will be reopening to tourism on June 1st.
  • May 29, 2020 – Governor Bryan delivered 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, 2020 – The V.I. Water and Power Authority issued 34,875 credits to ratepayers through the Government of the Virgin islands YES program, funded with federal dollars 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, 2020 – The Governor announced the beginning of the “Open Doors” phase of the Territory’s recovery plan. Under this phase, restrictions against leisure travel are lifted; guidance has been developed for the safe operation of restaurants, bars, hotels, taxis, and safaris; and thermal scanners are being installed at airports, among other measure to track visitors and their health.
  • June 2, 2020 – The Spring Revenue Estimating Conference, which was been delayed by COVID-19, took place and revealed the scope and impact the pandemic has had on the Territory’s economy. Initial revenue projections for 2020 revenue of $868.9 million were adjusted downward to $718.3 million.
  • June 3, 2020 – The University of the Virgin Islands announced that they will begin conducting virtual open house tours for parents and prospective students. The event will be hosted live on UVI’s Facebook page and via a 90-minute Zoom video call.
  • June 5, 2020 – The Governor convened the third meeting of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Committee to discuss the post-COVID-19 economy in the Virgin Islands. The CEDS Committee is comprised of representatives of the business community, the Tourism sector and non-profits, members of the Governor’s Cabinet and other community stakeholders.
  • June 6, 2020 – The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs announced that restrictions against live music will be lifted. Bands or DJs will be required to set up with at least a 10-foot space from patrons, and live bands or DJs will be prohibited in public spaces.
  • June 7, 2020 – Territory government agencies began adjusting back to normal operations and pre-COVID-19 hours.
  • June 8, 2020 – During his weekly COVID-19 update, the Governor announced that the Virgin Islands Department of Finance has issued 28,263 stimulus checks, totaling $45.9 million.
  • June 9, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation announced 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, 2020 – The Virgin Islands Department of Education announced a series of virtual town hall meetings to update residents on the status of new schools construction.
  • June 12, 2020 – The Virgin islands Department of Human Services announced the 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, 2020 – The Governor announced the “Healthier Horizons” initiative, 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, 2020 – The Governor launched 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, 2020 – Education Commissioner provided the first of a series of updates on the reopening of public school buildings for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • June 21, 2020 – The Department of Health announced 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, 2020 – The Governor submitted legislation for an amended version of the Revenue Anticipation Note he submitted in March. The Governor requested $60 million to supplement government operations in the wake of the financial devastation in the Territory from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • June 23, 2020 – The Education Department’s School Food Authority began its Summer Food Service Program for students in the Territory. Students can pick up meals at their designated schools at designated times.
  • July 2, 2020 – The Governor ordered that all beaches be closed at 4pm for the duration of the July 4 weekend, and for all bars and alcohol sales Territory-wide to end at 11pm until further notice.
  • July 6, 2020 – The Governor requested a 60-day extension to the Territory’s State of Emergency, currently set to expire on July 11.
  • July 7, 2020 – The Governor announced that, beginning July 13, individuals who are residents of, or whose travel originates in Arizona, Florida, or Texas, must present test results proving that they are negative for COVID-19, or positive for COVID-19 antibodies, upon their arrival into the territory.
  • July 13, 2020 – The Governor delayed the reopening of the Territory’s schools until at least September 8.
  • July 16, 2020 – The Governor delayed the start date for the Territory’s schools until at least September 8.
  • July 20, 2020 – The Governor announced that the Virgin Islands is in a critical financial situation and detailed the efforts of his administration to lobby the federal government for assistance.
  • July 28, 2020 – The Governor announced the activation of the Department of Tourism online portal for passengers arriving in the Territory. Visitors will be required to upload their travel health screenings and COVID-19 test results prior to traveling.
  • July 28, 2020 – The Governor announced the release of an online portal allowing visitors, especially those arriving from COVID-19 “hot spots” on the mainland, to upload their travel health screenings and COVID-19 test results before they travel.