TORTOLA — As today’s planned reopening date passes, seaports in the British Virgin Islands remain closed to international visitors.
Late Wednesday, BVI Ports Authority officials announced that the ports will now open April 15, more than a year after they closed March 30 to all but incoming cargo and approved travelers to St. Thomas. The ports had previously been set to reopen Dec. 8 and Jan. 12.
The BVI Ports Authority cited multiple reasons for the delay, including islands within the region having reported an increase in COVID-19 cases; the possibility of the introduction of variant strains; the need to rollout the vaccine in the community; health personnel needed to assist in monitoring procedures at the entry portal are significantly stretched; and the need to enhance the customer experience through improvements at the Road Town Jetty and other ports of entry, in light of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“The BVI Ports Authority apologizes for any inconvenience caused to residents, industry partners and our visitors,” a prepared statement said. “We want everyone to experience an authentic BVILOVE welcome from the moment they begin their journey to our islands and through the entire entry process at our seaports.”
Construction to accommodate ferries at the Tortola Pier Park and Road Town Ferry Terminal only began in late February. In the last week, crews worked to erect the building at the Pier Park and build a shaded covering over the Road Town Ferry Terminal departure lounge. Workers were also seen erecting beams for a structure to provide shade on the eastern side of the building, to accommodate passengers entering the territory from St. Thomas.
An employee said they are expected to complete their segment of the work by March 10.
Director of Operations Dean Fahie told The Daily News that the main dock at the Road Town Ferry Terminal will be repaired as part of the work being done.
In addition to the Road Town Jetty, whenever the ports reopen, visitors from St. Thomas and St. John will also be able to clear immigration and customs at the new Dog Hole Jetty Ferry Terminal on Jost Van Dyke, which was commissioned on Dec. 21.