Virgin Islands National Park on St. John has announced additional modifications to its operations to support federal, territorial and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
On April 6, during a public announcement, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. ordered the closure of all territorial beaches for two weeks. “Virgin Islands National Park supports Governor Bryan’s protective actions to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. This is our moment to ‘shut the door’ to prevent a major outbreak in the USVI,” said Nigel Fields, park superintendent.
To provide a consistent approach to health and safety for St. John residents and park visitors, all park beaches are closed, effective immediately and until further notice. All parking lots are closed; all park trails are closed. Although park waters currently remain open, mariners using park moorings and anchorage areas can expect further guidance and safety requirements later this week, said Fields.
Previously, on March 21, the governor had ordered all non-essential businesses to cease in-person operations until April 6 and to require those employees to stay at home. Hotels, villas and similar business are not to accept guests and reservations for 30 days. Bars are ordered closed and restaurants are allowed to provide take out service only. On March 30, Bryan extended those closures through April 30.
Beginning March 23, Virgin Islands 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 the territory orders, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NPS 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 water sports rentals at Trunk Bay are not 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. Pack it in, pack it out!
- 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.
According to the park superintendent, the safety of visitors, employees, volunteers, neighbors and partners is the number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with federal, territorial and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19. The National Park Service will notify the public when it resumes full operations and provides updates on its website (www.nps.gov/viis) and social media channels.
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 can be reached at 1-866-995-8467.
The NPS encourages people who choose to visit the waters of Virgin Islands National Park during this pandemic to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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.