The Virgin Islands National Park has announced changes in operations to support federal and local efforts to slow the COVID-19 virus.
In a statement released early this week, Park Superintendent Nigel Fields said he supported Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s protective actions to curb the spread of the virus, including his decision Monday to close the territory’s public beaches.
“This is our moment to ‘shut the door’ to prevent a major outbreak in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Fields said in the Monday statement.
As such, all park beaches are closed, effective immediately.
All parking lots and all park trails are also closed.
While park waters currently remain open, mariners using park moorings and anchorage areas can expect further guidance and safety requirements later this week, according to the statement.
Beginning March 23, the V.I. National Park started offering only very limited services outside those that support visitor or resource protection.
The following services and operations have been be modified in order to comply with territory’s orders, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Park Service guidance:
• The Cruz Bay Visitor Center is closed. Information and services will not be available.
• The park dock and bulkhead at the Cruz Bay Visitor Center is closed to commercial activity.
• No more than two individuals may occupy a dinghy when travelling to or from the NPS dock.
• All restrooms and porta johns in the park are closed.
• Guided hikes and other on-site public or educational programs are cancelled.
• Food service and watersports rentals at Trunk Bay are available.
• The park will not issue special visitor use or business permits.
• Trash is not being collected. When visiting the park, bring garbage bags so you can take your trash with you.
• Trash receptacles are not available for boater trash. Boaters must make other arrangements for trash disposal. Do not leave trash on shore.
• The pavilions at Trunk, Maho and Hawksnest bays are closed, as are changing rooms and showers.
“These temporary closures are a short-term inconvenience in return for the long-term safety and health of Virgin Islanders and current visitors,” Fields said.
Moorings remain open for use. The waters of both Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument remain open. Law enforcement staff will remain on duty and may be reached at 1-866-995-8467.
The NPS encourages people who choose to visit the waters of V.I. National Park during this pandemic to adhere to guidance from the CDC and territory and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees.
As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.
Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.