TORTOLA — Officials have pushed back the reopening of the Road Town Ferry Terminal connecting the British Virgin Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands, from Jan. 21 to March 1.

It’s the second time the opening date has slipped, as the port was scheduled to reopen on Dec. 8, a week after the territory reopened to air travelers.

The port has been closed since March, when borders were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Acting BVI Ports Authority Director Ollevine Maynard told reporters that additional construction work is being done at the Road Town Jetty, including work to comply with social distancing protocols. Maynard said that the current space is too small to accommodate the volume of traffic that passes through the port from St. Thomas.

“We have to put in new cubicles for persons to be tested onsite and we have to get the necessary wristbands to work with the [BVI Gateway] app that we have for them to register to come to the BVI,” she said.

In addition to the physical changes as the jetty, local vessels are being separated from international traffic and being relocated to the nearby Cyril B. Romney Pier Park, Maynard said.

International passengers will be accommodated in a safe environment and the necessary infrastructure is being put in place for them to be sheltered from the elements and comfortable, Maynard said.

“We’re looking at a deadline date of March 1, so we’re busy working to get all of these things put in place, but I can assure you that we will do all our best to ensure that we meet our deadline date.”

Once construction begins, all operations at the Road Town Ferry Terminal — both passenger and cargo — will cease with Immigration and Customs handling St. Thomas packages moving to the pier park.

For now, the ferry trip to the St. Thomas is one way with the outbound trip to the United States being possible by sea. However, travelers must make the return trip to the British Virgin Islands by air via Lettsome Airport and meet all the COVID-19 protocols, including proof of negative tests both departing the territory and reentering.

There’s a minimum four-day quarantine.