Bryan administration vs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, USVI Hotel and Tourism Association, St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association and Virgin Islanders representing 40 restaurants and hotels territory-wide

CDC guidelines

Bryan administration: “The Virgin Islands Department of Health recommends strict adherence to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” (June 1: V.I. COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants, Bars and Nightclubs)

CDC: “Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community.” (May 27: CDC COVID-19 Considerations for Restaurants and Bars)

Single-use items

Bryan administration: “In the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) ‘Best Practices for Reopening Retail Food Establishments during the COVID-19 Pandemic Food Safety Checklist,’ CDC strongly recommends the use of single-service and single-use articles (ie., biodegradable plate and carryout containers, paper plates, plastic utensils, etc., to decrease the spread of COVID-19.” (June 11: V.I. Department of Health Press Release)

Editor’s Note: The CDC guidelines referenced in the Health Department’s press release are not, in fact, from the CDC, but from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The FDA guidelines do not “strongly recommend the use of single-service and single-use articles… to decrease the spread of COVID-19” as noted. Instead, they provides guidance to ensure the safe handling of reusable food service items.

CDC: “Use disposable food service items. If disposable items are not feasible or desirable, ensure that all non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water, or in a dishwasher.” (May 27: CDC COVID-19 Considerations for Restaurants and Bars)

Personal plasticware

Bryan administration: “Patrons may bring, and leave with, their own drink containers or utensils.” (June 1: V.I. COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants, Bars and Nightclubs)

CDC: “Avoid use of food and beverage utensils and containers brought in by customers.” (May 27: CDC COVID-19 Considerations for Restaurants and Bars)

Seating

Bryan administration: “Limit the number of customers in the restaurant to 50 percent of seating capacity as defined by Business License or the Fire Marshall, or 50 customers, whichever is less.” (June 1: V.I. COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants, Bars and Nightclubs)

CDC: “On-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart.” (May 27: CDC COVID-19 Considerations for Restaurants and Bars)

Lack of collaboration

Governor Bryan: Bryan stated that his decision was based on the input of environmental health professionals and the territory’s epidemiologist, not members of the media or the community. (The Daily News, June 16, Page 2)

CDC: “Restaurants and bars can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials, whether and how to implement these considerations, making adjustments to meet the needs and circumstances of the local community.” (May 27: CDC COVID-19 Considerations for Restaurants and Bars)

Community letter: “Given the government’s reliance on CDC guidelines, we were alarmed to learn late last week of a needless and unwarranted deviation adopted without private sector consultation. The decision to require restaurants to use disposable plates, cutlery, and beverage containers and to encourage guests to bring their own contradicts the guidelines issued by the CDC.” (June 10 letter to Governor Bryan and DOH Commissioner Encarnacion from the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association, the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association and Virgin Islanders representing 40 restaurants and hotels throughout the territory.)

Cost of single-use plasticware

Governor Bryan: “If what’s standing between me and being a little safer is a pack of paper plates – $5.99 – I could live with that.” (The Daily News, June 16, Page 2)

Community letter: “The additional expense will run between $1,100 and $7,000 a month [for each restaurant] depending on the volume of guests and the quality of the wares. Businesses simply cannot afford this additional expense when they are struggling just to stay open.” (June 10 letter to Governor Bryan and DOH Commissioner Encarnacion from the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association, the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association and Virgin Islanders representing 40 restaurants and hotels throughout the territory.)