The Caribbean Islands reopen for business

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The world is opening up to meet again. And the Caribbean is no exception. The tourism-dependent Caribbean has seen 61,240 deaths as of July 9, though some islands have recorded total recoveries. So after months of lockdowns and quarantines, the Caribbean islands reopen for business. The region best known for its perfectly blue waters and inviting warm weather is ready to welcome you back. And just in time for summer, since no one quite does summer like the Caribbean.

You will find a list of the already opened and soon opening islands with updated restrictions and safety measures below. Contracting and moving the virus is still very much a possibility, so local government enforced standard measures such as social distancing, wearing masks in public spaces, sanitation, and temperature screenings on most islands, especially at their entry ports.

United States Virgin Island

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Hansen bay at St. John

The U. S Virgin Islands, which were the first to officially reopen their borders on June 1, have amended some of their previous restrictions to welcome tourists to their shores. But the entry protocols for foreign nationals still remain in place.

Most hotels in this U. S territory are open with additional cleaning measures set. As for restaurants, operations may ensue but with only 50 percent of their normal capacity. So you might want to book early. Public beaches also welcome feet back in their sand, while adhering to distancing rules. So you might not need a mask here.

Antigua and Barbuda

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Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

This double-knotted state, which reopened its borders on June 4, has a list of requirements, which include providing a certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test accompanied by a completed Health Declaration Form and a Traveller Accommodation Form. Screenings and rapid antigen tests are also conducted.

Hotels and resorts are open with implemented measures such as electronic check-ins. Housekeepers have gone the extra mile, putting stickers on cleaned rooms, just to put their guests at ease.

Jamaica

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White River in Ochos Rios Jamaica

Known for its lightning-fast sprinters and unique music genre, Jamaica will also be known for re-welcoming the world on June 15. The Director of Tourism, Donovan White, relayed his excitement in a statement on Travel Pulse, “Tourism is the lifeblood of our local economy, and with the help of international experts and a dedicated task force, we have developed protocols that allow us to reopen our borders safely.” International tourists can expect standard screening procedures. Anyone displaying elevated symptoms will be advised to undergo testing and to self-quarantine as they await their results. Travelers are also required to complete an online health assessment before boarding to the island. 

Gatherings have the green light but with a maximum of 10 attendants. Restaurants may house up to 70 percent in capacity, but buffets are still off the table.

St. Lucia

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The Church Of The Immaculate Conception, Castries

Travelers graced the borders of St. Lucia on June 4, solely from the United States. While international travelers hit the scene on June 22. Among other procedures, visitors will be required to provide proof of a certified negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours before travel and a health assessment. Travel is mandated only with authorized taxis booked by the hotel.

St. Lucia is still currently in phase 1 of its reopening, and phase 2 is expected to kick in from August 1, details are yet to be released.

St. Barth

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Villa in the mountains, St. Barths.

This French island, which has seen a total recovery of its 6 cases, has resumed back to normal life within its borders. But since a tourist destination is not really normal without its tourists, the island official welcomed back tourists on June 22. You can expect to hit the boutiques, get round to an early dinner, or simply enjoy getting a tan without any restrictions.

Since the island is currently COVID-19 free, there are measures to ensure it stays so. Tourists must provide a PT-PCR test performed at least 72 hours before departure to the island. And if this is not in hand, one will be conducted at the airport, though tourists will be transitioned into quarantine pending the results. Island territorial council president, Bruno Magras cited in a press release that results are often received within 24 hours. So once that is done, it is back to enjoying what this beautiful island has to offer.

The Bahamas

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Shack Signs at an old vacation hut

This region of 700 islands announced a two phase plan as part of its Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan. Phase 1 started on June 15, welcoming private jet and boat owners, while phase 2 kicked in on July 1, welcoming international travelers.

During both phases, visitors must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken ten days within the arrival and fill out a travel card. Children 10 years and younger do not require testing. Excursion trips and attraction tours are still on course but with limited participants and limited visit durations. Ferris, buses, and other public transport vehicles carry only 50 percent of their capacity.

Restaurants and food services have reopened with new measures in place, like disposable menus. Buffets have been discontinued.

Aruba

Aruba, which had already opened up its borders to neighboring islands, Bonaire and Curacao, on June 15, received tourists from Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean (excluding the Dominican Republic and Haiti) on July 1. And tourists from the United States on July 10.

You can access the procedures developed in collaboration with the Department of Public Health and guidance from the World Health Organization at Aruba.com. Procedures include completing an Embarkation/Disembarkation card (ED Card), advisably after booking your vacation. The process also requires proof of negative COVID-19 results solely from a PCR test (other tests are not admissible). Masks will not be needed in Aruba except in places where distancing is impossible to observe. 

At hotels, plexiglass barriers have been erected along with establishing contactless check-ins. According to the national website, protocols will be revisited continuously for improvements and updates, so if this is your next destination, we would advise you to keep an eye on the site.

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Aruba Ports, Oranjestad, Aruba

Puerto Rico

The island will officially reopen for tourists from July 15. On the island, restaurants reopened on June 16, with the operational capacity of 50 percent. Recreational places such as golf courses are also open, though groups are limited to same household members only, while others like the El Yunque require an appointment for entry.

Incoming visitors might be subjected to a 14-day quarantine regardless of symptoms or be required to take a rapid result test. There are new guidelines in place to ensure safety within accommodation establishments. Travel to Puerto Rico is currently via flights only. Full details have not yet been released.

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The beautiful city of San Juan, the heart of Puerto Rico

Turks and Caicos

The British territory has announced plans to reopen borders on July 22. According to Travel+Leisure, the Tourist Board director, Pamela Ewing, shared on the possibility of re-welcoming tourists. However, they will not be rushing, “In the meantime, we are taking every precaution to ensure the islands are safe and enhance the exceptional experience and care afforded by the destination and our world-class hospitality partners”.

Protocols are yet to be announced. Restaurants and hotels in the region were allowed to resume operations for locals on July 6.

Airlines have confirmed their routes to the region, though the Grand Turks Cruise Centre will remain closed until August 1, as per medical advice.

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The Proviciales in Turks and Caicos

Cayman Islands

After the deputy premier who doubles as minister of tourism, Moses Kirkconnell, confirmed the Cayman Islands’ reopening on September 1, premier Alden McLaughlin sees the target date highly unlikely as reported by the local paper Cayman Compass.

During an evening briefing, McLaughlin expressed his doubts saying, “Given what I and everybody else is seeing in the United States, the September reopening date is not looking good.”

It seems the reopening of this ultimate diving destination may be highly unlikely. But all we can is wait and see.

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The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa, Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

St. Maarten

In a recent press release, tourism minister Ludmila de Weever announced St. Maarten welcomed tourists from Europe and North America from July 1. The Dutch island partially reopened for travelers from other Caribbean islands on June 22 (provided they had been in their country for 21 days before travel). And it will soon be reopening just a bit more with new restrictions in place. Testing is not mandatory but highly advised. St. Maarten has reopened most of its dining and shopping centers. Even water sport activities are available. But you will have put your nightlife on hold as nightclubs are still inaccessible till further notice.

Full details are still to be revealed, so if you are planning to journey to St. Maarten, keep your eye on their website.

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The beach airport, the planes flying right above you as you enjoy your tan

Dominica

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If you are missing the breathtaking beauty of the ‘Nature Island”, then we have good news for you. According to a statement in Caribbean Journal, Dominica will reopen its borders on August 7.

Colin Piper, CEO of Discover Dominica, cited, “Though excited to once again be offering travelers an opportunity to experience the Nature Island of the Caribbean, we are approaching this opening with stringent protocols,” adding, “Our priority remains to keep visitors and our residents free from the spread of the virus. Dominica’s many nature-based activities, our secluded beaches, and long meandering rainforest hikes are perfectly positioned for a socially distanced travel experience. The great outdoors and wholesome cuisine of Dominica offers the perfect antidote to the stresses of this pandemic.”

The health protocols follow that of many countries, including rapid test screening. But entry for both nationals and tourists requires a negative PCR COVID-19 test at most 72 hours old. You must also fill out an online health questionnaire.

If anyone displays concerning symptoms, government facilities, and certified hotels are ready for quarantine procedures.

The largest resort, Cabrits Resort, and Spa Kempinski Dominica has announced its plans to reopen in time to receive tourists, while the eco-resort, Rosalie Bay resort, is already up and running. Some resorts, though not yet open, are on track for the reopening in August.

Barbados

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Historial site, canons in St Lucy, Barbados.

Feel like flying fish and cou-cou? Then you are in luck. Barbados has reopened its borders. From July 1, “the land of the flying fish” has welcomed tourists back to its shores, at which time it was virus-free. But as of August 7, there were 26 active cases.

The government of Barbados has made substantial changes in the hope of keeping life. Travelers are bracketed according to their country of residence, from high-risk countries to bubble countries. All travelers are required to wear masks at all times while at the airport, undergo health screenings, and fill out an online ED Card regardless of their country.

High-risk and medium-risk country tourists must present a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure. If this is unavailable, one will be conducted at the airport. Tourists from high- risk countries will also be quarantined upon arrival for 14 days. 5 to 7 days into quarantine, another test will be taken, and if negative, tourist may begin their vacation. Tourists from medium-risk countries will only be monitored for 14 days and tested at the 5 -7-day mark. If the test is found negative, the vacation begins.

Tourists from low-risk countries only need a negative PCR test, taken 3 – 5 days of departure alongside their ED Card. No testing will be done upon arrival if tourists have no worrying symptoms.

Bubble country travelers may freely enter Barbados if they have been in the country for 21 days before departure.

Like all countries, the island promises to take measures to ensure both residents’ and tourists’ safety.

St. Kitts and Nevis

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The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is set to reopen it’s borders in October, allowing commercial air and sea vessels.

The phased reopening is under the advisement of the Chief Medical Officer. According to the statement released by the Prime Minister, Dr. Harris, major hotels in the Federation are still committed partners of the tourism sector. Most famous resorts like the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Park Hyatt will reopen in October while the Park Hyatt’s Fisherman’s village already reopened on August 7.

The government has taken extreme measures, training 5000 stakeholders in health and safety protocols needed to meet the “Travel Approved” certification.

St. Vincent and Grenadines 

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Sunsent at Indian Bay Beach

On July 1, St. Vincent and the Grenadines reopened it’s borders to international travelers. Tourists to the magnificent shores have to carry proof of a COVID-19 test result taken no longer than seven days before travel, which they will add to the health questionnaire. Upon arrival, tourists will have to take another test and stay in quarantine for at least five days. Testing will continue on day four or day five of your stay. And then back to quarantine between day nine and day 16.

Bermuda

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Bermuda

Bermuda reopened its borders for visitors on July 1, as part of its four stages of phased economic reopening. Tourists to the pink beaches will have to complete a Bermuda Travel Authorization Form 48 hours before departure and upload proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior. Included also is a $75 fee, which will cover a second mandatory rapid result test upon arrival. You will also be going in for quarantine at your accommodation until the results are available. 

As you pack your bag, remember a portable thermometer, which you will need to record your temperature for officials daily. Tourists will also have to take another test on day four, day eight, and 14 during their visit. Regardless of their extensive requirements, officials encourage tourists to visit and maybe even stay a little longer.

Grenada

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The Spice Island

The spice island reopened its borders on August 1, welcoming international tourists. The country has tiered travelers from high risk to low-risk tourists.

There are standard requirements for all travelers regardless of category. All tourists must complete a Health Declaration Form prior to travel and register on the Grenada Contact Tracing App. Tourists must possess proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken at most seven days before departure. All tourists must also have travel insurance. 

Upon travel, tourists must undergo a rapid test at the airport. If the results are negative, tourists from low-risk countries will have freedom of movement while those from medium risk countries will be allowed limited movements. But if the results are positive, tourists will undergo a 14-day quarantine period. Tourists from high-risk countries will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period

British Virgin Island 

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Necker Island in the BVI

The English territory has announced the official reopening for tourism to be December 1. The premier and minister of finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, announced at the launch of “BVILOVE” campaign that the wholesome intention is to reopen as safely as humanly possible regarding safety and wellbeing of tourists and residents.

“This next phase comes with a risk factor, where if a case of COVID-19 gets into our territory, then it can go through the whole community very quickly. That is why we must use technology.”

On June 1, the first reopening welcomed citizens and permanent residents, while the second was on September 1, welcomed back several categories, including medical personnel and students.

Specific reopening guidelines have not yet been released.