COVID-19 Protocols for Marine Tourism
Approved by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health
(latest update Nov 6, 2020)
Check the V.I. Department of Health website https://www.COVID19usvi.com/ and the Department of Tourism website Travelers Portal to register their arrival at least 5 days in advance, for all visitors ages 5 and up https://usvitravelportal.com/
Effective September 19, 2020, every traveller aged five and older who enters the U.S. Virgin Islands is required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal and submit a COVID-19 test result.
Travelers are required to provide either:
- a COVID-19 (molecular/PCR/rapid) test taken and negative result received (both within five days of commencement of travel to the Territory), OR
- a COVID-19 antibody test taken and positive result received (both within four months of commencement of travel to the Territory)
VIPCA Recommendation to Charter Clients: To the extent you are able, please try to self-quarantine as much as possible for the two weeks prior to your charter. Once you begin your travels, you should wipe down all surfaces around your airplane seat (and taxi seat, ferry seat, etc.) with disinfecting wipes, regardless of what the airline, taxi driver or ferry may have indicated they are doing. Wear a mask at all times except when eating or drinking. If you are going to use a public bathroom, wipe all handles with disinfecting wipes (and, of course, wash your hands well!). Before boarding your charter yacht please wash and sanitize your hands.
If a yacht arrives from a delivery of ten (10) days or more subsequent to all crew/client onboard having received negative COVID-19 tests prior to their departure, then the crew/clients will not be required to re-test upon arrival nor complete further quarantine subsequent to arrival in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Yes. If everyone one onboard is tested within 72 hours before departure and remained symptom free for 14 days and assuming they have not disembarked within the 14 days. (10 days is the isolation period for someone with the infection)
If a yacht arrives from a delivery of any duration, even up to fourteen (14) days, the crew/clients will still be required to test upon arrival and quarantine between their arrival in the U.S. Virgin Islands and their receiving negative COVID-19 test results.
No. If no symptoms have been seen within the 14 days they will not be required to test upon arrival.
If any crew/client stays onboard their yacht between arrival in to the USVI and departure then they do not have to test. Only once the yacht crew/client comes on shore would they be required to be tested.
Yes, but everyone should complete the form on the usvitravelportal.com regardless of disembarking or not.
If a crew/client arrives from a delivery of less than ten (10) days and wish to disembark prior to ten (10) days, then the crew/client should complete the usvitravelportal.com and be tested, quarantining onboard until they receive a negative test result. Any negative test result from prior to their departure would no longer be valid.
If a crew/client shows a fever or COVID-19 symptoms when on yacht charter in the U.S. Virgin islands... Is the yacht required to notify the DOH? Is the yacht required to have them tested? Is the yacht able to bring them ashore for a test or must a test be administered onboard?
Call the DOH hotline ( 349-776-1519 or 430-712-6299) or a local physician should be called to be tested. Whether the test will be done onshore or on board will be a decision the doctor, lab or DOH should decide on an individual basis. If the yacht is docked, it is likely the swab would be done on board.
If the "suspected case" can be isolated on board they must until they receive the test result. If not the DOH can assist in finding a hotel in which the person can isolate at cost to the individual or the owner of the yacht.
If they test positive, the DOH epidemiology staff will contact the individual, do contact tracing and begin any isolation process in non-congregate housing (a hotel ashore). They will have to remain in quarantine until cleared by the DOH, generally not more than 10 days in the non-congregate housing (hotel ashore). Even if negative, but with symptoms, quarantine may be required for close contacts of positive cases.
If symptoms are severe, with breathing difficulty or any other kind of distress, 911 must be called and informed of a possible COVID infection. They will handle it from there to the hospital.
What is the procedure if a crew/client test Positive for COVID-19?
Is the yacht required to quarantine them onboard? … If so, for how long? (Assuming they have flight within 6-7 days… can they disembark and travel to the airport to depart the USVI?) Is the yacht required to put them in a COVID required quarantine facility? Can they choose to go home? Can they choose to go to a hotel?
Most of this is answered above.
A yacht is considered "congregate housing" which is not acceptable for isolation of a COVID-19 positive person if there are other COVID-19 negative persons also onboard. The DOH will assist in finding a "non-congregate housing" ashore (a hotel) for the COVID-19 positive person(s) to separate them from the COVID-19 negative person(s). The DOH will determine how long isolation needs be for before the COVID-19 positive person(s) may fly or relocate (any COVID-19 positive person may not fly until they receive a negative test result). If they live in the USVI and can isolate at home they can go home.
What should the other crew/clients do? Are they required also to test, and if the COVID-19 positive person does remain onboard, then should the other crew/clients remain onboard also even if they test negative? How long for? Please note that a typical charter yacht is very close confines with proximity other crew/clients difficult to avoid.
DOH Epidemiology will do contact tracing which will likely include testing everyone on the yacht and advise how to proceed based on the circumstances and test results. If the initial test for others onboard are negative these persons should monitor their symptoms and to re-test in five days, but in the mean time may continue their charter and are safe to fly home if they choose to do so.
The following practices are recommended by VIPCA in compliance with suggestions released by the Centre of Disease Control, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the American Cleaning Institution, and the World Health Organization. By creating a standard of expected cleanliness, the charter industry can give guests peace of mind regarding preventive measures taken to protect the health of themselves and their crew. VIPCA encourages all of its members to follow government standards and laws regarding COVID-19. Please direct all questions to email@example.com
“Cleaning” suggests wiping away residues, dirt, grease and other debris, but only removes these items on surfaces, and does not kill or remove harmful bacteria, germs, or microorganisms.
“Sanitizing” reduces the microorganisms on a surface to a safe level, based on established parameters. Sanitizers should contain 70% or more alcohol and should not be substituted for proper hand-washing.
“Disinfecting” destroys specific infectious microorganisms on hard surfaces. Strong chemicals are usually used and may be toxic and if used on food surfaces and consumed. Proper rinsing and drying the surface to remove the chemical is a must.
Effective Disinfectant Solutions:
When using a disinfectant or sanitizer on surfaces, contact time is important. Contact time is the amount of time the chemical needs to be left on surface to completely kill the microorganisms before wiping the chemical off. The times listed here are minimums.
3% Hydrogen peroxide - dilute to 0.5% concentration - contact time one minute
100% Rubbing Alcohol - dilute to 70-80% concentration (100% alcohol evaporates too quickly to be effective) - contact time 30 seconds
Disinfectant wipes - contact time four minutes
Bleach - Dilute 1/3 cup bleach in one gallon water (four teaspoons in one quart water) - contact time one minute. Some versions of bleach are not intended to be used as a disinfectant (check the label). Do not mix bleach with any other chemical.
Protect yourself while using disinfectants to clean surfaces and objects. Fumes may be harmful to breathe and chemicals may be harsh on skin. Wear masks and gloves when needed. Keep all disinfectant solutions out of reach from children.
For additional information on disinfecting and preventive measures: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html
For a complete list of EPA approved disinfectants for use against COVID-19: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
A. Sanitary Recommendations for Crew (Before Charter)
1. Obtaining Provisions
- Utilize provisioning services or grocery store order-ahead options to avoid leaving the boat to shop when available. Remember, the items you bring into your boat may have coronavirus on its surface. Once provisions are delivered, do the following:
- Wash your handsfor at least 20 seconds with soap and water before and after handling provisions, packages and mail
- Break down and discard excess cardboard and plastic packaging
- Wash fruits and vegetables in one part vinegar to two parts water for 30-60 seconds
- Wash all reusable grocery bagsbefore reusing
- Disinfect all surfaces where provisions were placed prior to being stowed in the boat
- For more information on the surface stability of COVID-19: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
2. If utilizing provisioning services or grocery store order-ahead options are not available to you, do the following:
- Go shopping at a time less likely to be crowded
- Maintain a six-foot distance from other shoppers and store employees when possible
- If possible, visit a store that limits the number of customers allowed inside at one time and making sure that people stay a safe distance apart while waiting in line outside
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering
- Sanitize the handles of shopping trolleys or baskets before shopping
- Once back on the boat, wash your hands thoroughly and also after handling and storing your purchased products
- All vessels should be meticulously cleaned to the standards listed prior to welcoming guests onboard
- Continue with normal routine cleaning, this will decrease how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects, which reduces the risk of exposure
- Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people is important before and throughout the charter
- Clean all interior surfaces thoroughly with a disinfectant solution, including walls, counter tops, tables, light switches, hand rails, and door knobs
- Exterior surfaces should also be washed down thoroughly and special attention should go to disinfecting dining areas, coolers, trash bins, and any common guest use items touched frequently like ice box, sunscreen bottles, and sliding door handles
- All guest linens and towels should be freshly laundered including mattress protector, pillow protectors, and throw pillow covers
- Spray throw pillows and salon cushions with disinfectant (test first!) and leave in the sun to dry
- For more information on cleaning best practices:https://www.cleaninginstitute.org/coronavirus-cleaning-information
4. Communication and Education
- Communicating Health Safety With Guests: It’s important that both crew and guests engage in conduct that ensures the health safety of all onboard. Here are some recommendations to share with your guests before they arrive:
- Guests should contact their healthcare provider if they have concerns about COVID-19 before traveling
- While traveling to their destination, guests should wipe down all surfaces around their airplane seats and taxi seats with disinfecting wipes
- Wash hands frequently while traveling and avoid touching mouth, face, eyes and nose
- When greeting the crew, please use verbal greetings rather than handshakes or hugs
- Once onboard, guests are encouraged to change their clothes in their bathrooms, isolate those clothes in a plastic bag, then wash their hands with soap and water
- Guests are expected to wash their hands before all meals
- High risk guestsmay need to take extra precaution or seek medical advice before traveling
5. Communicating Personal Health Safety: It’s important that yacht crew are comfortable and transparent in their willingness to accommodate guests
- Yacht crew who have heath concerns regarding COVID-19 or are high risk are encouraged to communicate their concerns to the appropriate identity (managing company or yacht owner)
- Communicate the precautionary steps you are taking with your guests and broker prior to the charter
- For support, VIPCA members may email firstname.lastname@example.org
B. Sanitary Recommendations for Crew (During Charter)
Sanitation and Cleanliness
- Ensure proper cleaning of living spaces, beds and heads:
- Dining table, galley countertops and high-traffic areas should be sanitized multiple times per day
- Guest cabins and heads should be cleaned daily with disinfectants for toilets, counters, knobs, handles, etc. while wearing gloves
- Charter yachts offering mid-week sheet changes, daily turn ups and turn downs may consider doing this on a needed bases going forward to limit contact and reduce storage of laundry
- Have guests hang their own towels and wet clothes to reduce contact
Remain diligent in the frequent cleaning of galley & dining areas:
- All dishes should be washed in hot water with dish soap, or in a dishwasher if available
- Dish towels and sponges should be changed out frequently
- Crew will wash hands prior to any food service, food prep, or cooking
- Carry hand sanitizer in the dinghy
- Explain in safety briefing steps everyone will need to take to maintain a clean vessel while living in close proximity
VIPCA reminds all yachts to routinely take their vessel 3 miles off shore for discharging black water, and to make this an expectation by any charter client during a term-charter.
- It is IMPERATIVE that all yachts respect US Virgin Island law regarding black-water discharge from their holding tanks
- It is illegal for a vessel to discharge raw sewage within the 3 nautical mile limit of the territorial waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands
VIPCA encourages all members to follow government standards and laws regarding COVID-19. More information can be found at the DPNR website that relates to this order: https://dpnr.vi.gov/environmental-enforcement/