First and foremost, this story runs with a disclaimer. The CDC, along with most public-health and infectious-disease specialists, is asking US citizens to stay put to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Travel is not recommended in the immediate future, unless you’re a 90-year-old woman from England named Margaret Keenan who received the first round of a COVID-19 vaccine. Come to think of it, she shouldn’t travel either.
But, I know that people will travel to the Caribbean this winter because “delayed gratification” are not words that many Americans enjoy hearing. So please, don’t look upon this story as an endorsement of travel, but simply a guide if you’re planning to travel. In other words, save those nasty letters and e-mails for some other travel writer.
Now here’s the story: Many Caribbean islands are open, but with a lot of restrictions. Be prepared to get your nose swabbed both in the United States and the islands. Multiple tests are a must. Also, it’s likely you’ll need to quarantine at a hotel or resort once you’ve arrived before test results have come back. In some cases you’re required to wear a tracking device (!). Sadly there’s no blanket policy. Each island is charting its own course. Here’s just a smattering of what some of the islands are doing. Make sure you carefully research any and all requirements if you’re going to the Caribbean this winter. The rules are also continually changing as the virus reaches record numbers in the United States.
Like many islands, Anguilla is requiring travelers to complete and submit a health screening questionnaire before arriving. The island will then grant pre-authorization. Without pre-authorization, you may be denied entry to the country once you arrive. You will also be required to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test conducted within three to five days prior to arrival date. All visitors are required to provide proof of insurance which covers COVID-19 medical costs and full hospitalization, doctors’ visits, prescriptions, and air ambulance.
Once you arrive in Anguilla, you’ll need to provide a hard copy of your negative COVID-19 PCR test result to a port health official, undergo a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test and health screening, remain quarantined at your approved location for at least 10 days, undergo regular health monitoring, and obtain a negative PCR COVID-19 test to be released from quarantine.
Before landing, all visitors must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within five days of arrival, as well as proof of travel insurance that includes comprehensive medical coverage. All travelers must apply for a BVI Gateway Traveler Authorization Certificate within five days of travel to the BVI and must complete the application at least 48 hours prior to arrival with the uploading of the PCR COVID-19 test result.
At the airport, travelers will be directed to the BVI’s welcome center for an additional COVID-19 PCR test. Visitors are also required to activate a contact tracing system on their phones (which requires either data or Wi-Fi connectivity) and wear a government-issued wristband monitoring device (the cost for the tests and monitoring device is $175), in addition to being given an appointment for another test on the fourth day of their stay. If that fourth day test is negative, travelers can be released from quarantine and are allowed to move around the BVI freely while still following social distancing and safety measures. Anyone who tests positive must continue to quarantine at their location for a minimum of 14 days.
All travelers are required to obtain pre-travel authorization through the TCI Assured portal. Without authorization, you will not be able to board a flight to Turks and Caicos. In addition to a completed health questionnaire, a negative COVID-19 PCR taken at an accredited test center within five days prior to travel is required. Children under the age of 10 are exempt. Insurance which covers COVID-19 medical costs and full hospitalization, doctors’ visits, prescriptions, and air ambulance is also required. Questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visitors are required to fill out a health questionnaire within 72 hours of arrival. In order to enter the country you must have a negative COVID-19 test result taken at an accredited or certified facility within three days prior to arrival. Test results must be submitted via travelform.gov.bb and travelers are required to bring a copy of the results with them. The test will be checked for validity. You can be denied entry without a negative test. All incoming travelers must undergo a health assessment which may include a temperature check and a brief interview. Once on the island, vacationers will have restricted movement at a designated holding hotel or approved villa at their own expense for the first four to five days. After a second test taken four to five days after arrival, travelers can move about the island unrestricted, although they’ll be monitored for seven days after arrival.
If you’re looking for a Caribbean getaway with few restrictions, then the Dominican Republic should be your destination. A negative COVID-19 test is not required to enter, and only between 3 to 10 percent of those arriving at the airport will be randomly tested for coronavirus. While en route, passengers will be required to fill out and submit a Traveler’s Health Affidavit until Dec. 31. Through this form, passengers declare that they have not experienced any COVID-19-related symptoms in the last 72 hours and provide contact details for the next 30 days. All international tourists arriving on commercial flights and staying at a hotel will be granted a temporary, free health coverage plan that provides coverage for emergencies in the event of an infection or exposure to COVID-19 while in-country. The coverage includes medical attention by specialists, medical transfers, transfer of a relative, penalty for airfare changes, and lodging for prolonged stays and more. This insurance will be provided at no cost to visitors arriving on or before Dec. 31, and will be paid entirely by the Dominican government.
A negative COVID test, taken 72 hours prior to arriving, is required. Travelers are required to fill out a Travel Declaration Form through the Puerto Rico Health Department’s online portal at travelsafe.pr.gov and obtain an Airport Exit Confirmation number and QR code, which travelers will automatically receive when uploading proof of their negative COVID result to the portal. Without the test result, arriving visitors must quarantine for 14 days at their lodging or the length of the stay, whichever is shorter, or until negative test results are provided.
Arriving passengers are required to complete and submit the online Travel Authorization between two to five days prior to their planned arrival in Jamaica. Once travelers are approved, they receive a certificate that must be submitted during the airline check-in process. In addition, all travelers from the United States must get a negative COVID-19 or antigen test at a lab approved by the World Health Organization no more than 10 days prior to departure and provide the test results at check-in at the departure airport. Once on the island, visitors must remain in the Resilient Corridors on the north and south coasts and must stay at COVID-19 Protocol Compliant Approved accommodations, which are listed on the www.visitjamaica.com website. The Jamaica Cares program, which provides travel protection and emergency services for travelers is now in effect. It is mandatory for every non-Jamaican passport holder and costs $40 per person, payable at the time the Travel Authorization is approved.
Travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID test done within seven days of travel and must complete a pre-arrival registration form. They must also indicate at which COVID-19-certified hotel they will be staying. All passengers will be screened at the airport. Symptomatic passengers will be tested and then quarantined at their hotel until the result is received. If positive, they will be in isolation at one of two hospitals. Mask wearing is mandatory in public spaces.
Unlike many surrounding islands, the Cayman Islands are not yet open to tourists, and that will likely stand as cases of COVID-19 continue to spike around the world. However, the Cayman Islands has begun its Global Concierge program for those who are looking to ride out the epidemic at white sand beaches over the long term. The island is inviting remote workers who want a change of scenery to live and work there for up to two years. There are, however, several catches. Perhaps the most challenging is that in order to qualify, your income needs to be at least $100,000 a year. If you’re traveling with a companion, that number is $150,000. In addition to quarantining upon arrival, travelers must also provide a valid passport, notarized bank reference letter, proof of health insurance, and criminal background record. That’s not all, there’s a certificate fee of $1,469 per year (for two people) payable upon application submission. Dependents cost an additional $500 each. When US visitors are allowed, they must register via www.exploregov.ky/traveltime to receive pre-travel authorization. Visitors must submit proof of COVID insurance. They will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in pre-approved residential and government facilities and take another PCR test at the end of the 14 days.
While many have opened to US travelers with restrictions, some have not. The French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe have yet to reopen to US tourism. Bonaire and Montserrat also remain closed to US travelers.