The U.S. Virgin Islands appears poised to loosen its current restrictions for visiting cruise ships, according to a recent report from the St. Thomas Source.

“The Department of Health, Office of the Governor, V.I. Port Authority, and West Indian Company Limited (WICO) are now finalizing an updated [Memorandum of Understanding] to present to the cruise lines outlining local requirements,” WICO President and CEO Anthony Ottley told the WICO board of directors during a recent meeting per the Source.

“In this updated MOU, cruise ships will be allowed to dock and disembark passengers if there is a maximum of a 3 percent infection rate amongst the passengers and crew members,” he added. “The cruise lines were requesting a 4 percent infection rate ceiling of the entire ship, and certain destinations are granting those requests.”

At the moment, cruise ships may not call in the USVI if reporting an onboard infection rate of 1 percent of their passengers and crew.

The current protocols have recently forced several ships to cancel their calls in the islands, with 13 cruise ships being impacted in January alone.

The news of impending loosened restrictions comes as COVID-19 case numbers drop across the U.S. and major cruise lines continue to drop mask mandates after meeting the deadline to opt into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Cruise Ship Program.

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