When the Virgin Islands joined several other tourism-based Caribbean nations in closing its air and seaports on March 22, 2020 and subsequently implementing a total lockdown last Friday, March 27, 2020, in the fight against COVID-19, visitors in the Territory may have found themselves caught in an unfortunate situation.
Now, the Government of the Virgin Islands and Immigration Department are putting measures in place for accommodations to be made for visitors who are in the Territory and may need assistance in extending their stay until the 'all-clear' is given.
Extensions will be granted after curfew - Mr Penn
Acting Chief Immigration Officer Mr Ian B. Penn, speaking exclusively to Virgin Islands News Online (VINO), said: "All visitors who are in the Territory and are unable to leave and who have gone past the date allowed to remain when they first entered, will be given the opportunity to come in at Immigration when the curfew is lifted to seek an extension."
Another total lockdown is expected to run from Saturday, April 4, 2020, until Thursday, April 16, 2020, where no one is expected to leave their homes as part of the Cabinet endorsed extended curfew.
According to Mr Penn, the time permitted to remain in the Territory will be extended for visitors until they are able to find the means of going back to their home country. "It is realised that it is no fault of their own and we need to encourage everyone affected to come in so that this anomaly brought on can be dealt with."
"I know that persons are worried about this and would want to come out in numbers, but I must state that this will be dealt with cautiously because we need to keep in mind the social distancing guidelines in place," he said.
Process will commence after curfew is lifted
Mr Penn further noted that all persons coming in to do business with the Immigration Department, after the curfew is lifted, will have to make an appointment and only a certain number of persons will be allowed to be processed on a daily basis.
"I want to make it absolutely clear that there is no need to show up and rush to get service if you do not have an appointment. Further details as to when persons can start to make appointments will be given at a later date," he said.
The Virgin Islands had moved into curfew mode after the Territory recorded its cases of the deadly coronavirus
The Immigration Department also noted they will be extending the payment of services deadlines to three months in light of COVID
Mr Penn can be contacted via telephone at 284-468-9527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.