Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has announced new restrictions and curfews on bars and beaches, respectively, amid a rising tide of COVID-19 cases in the territory.
In his 10th supplemental executive order pertaining to the pandemic, Bryan ordered all bars, nightclubs and gaming facilities closed as long as the territory remains in a State of Emergency, as declared on March 13 and extended to mid-August.
Bryan also ordered beaches to have a curfew from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekends and holidays — again, for the duration of the State of Emergency.
The changes come as the number of COVID-19 cases in the territory continues to surge. As of Tuesday night, the territory reported 243 positive cases and was tracking 125 active cases, a jump of 114 cases since July 1.
Government House spokesman Richard Motta Jr. told The Daily News that the governor, in coordination with Health Department officials, made the changes out of an abundance of caution.
Bars were briefly opened with heightened safety guidelines after the territory moved into an “Open Doors” phase on June 1. During the Fourth of July holiday weekend, bars were ordered to close at midnight, with “last call” being 11 p.m.
The latest executive order not only closes bars indefinitely but requires any establishment that sells alcohol to stop doing so by 11 p.m.
Restaurants are still allowed to serve food on-site, but social distancing must be practiced and disposal tableware used.
The curfew on beaches is a continuation of the curfew imposed during the Fourth of July holiday.
“There shall be no picnics, no parties, no disc-jockey, no DJ equipment or the likes, no camping, no bonfire, no cooking, no barbecuing or grilling allowed on any beach in the territory … so long as the territory remains in a State of Emergency,” the executive order stated.
Only fishermen can go to the beach during off-hours to access their vessels or cast their nets.
The order states that any traveler coming from a location with a positivity test rate higher than 10% is subject to certain restrictions.
Specifically, travelers from these areas must receive a negative COVID-19 test result — or a positive antibodies test result, which shows that someone has had the coronavirus in the past — 72 hours prior to departing for the territory.
Those who fail both tests will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Currently, there are 11 states and territories under travel restrictions into the Virgin Islands: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
The order also encourages business to have employees who are non-essential to work from home or remotely.