Thursday,  October 22, 2020  4:18 pm

How these Caribbean islands are planning to reopen


How these Caribbean islands are planning to reopen
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

As more countries around the world continue to relax their lockdown restrictions in response to COVID-19, many Canadians are wondering how long it could be before they return to their favourite Caribbean holiday spots.

While some destinations have already welcomed international flights, others' borders remain closed until further notice.

Here's a look at how some Caribbean countries are planning to reopen in the coming months.

Aruba

Aruba's border and airport reopening is tentatively scheduled between June 15th and July 1st.

The island has also unveiled a new health and safety program called the “Aruba Health and Happiness Code.” This cleaning and hygiene program will be mandatory for all tourism-related businesses across the country, says the Aruba Tourism Authority. 

The Aruba Airport Authority has also introduced new health-focused protocols, such as screenings, temperature checks, on-site medical professionals, social distance markers and mandatory PPE training for all staff.

Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda welcomed its first commercial flight back to the island on June 4th, and is currently in Phase One of its planned reopening.

During Phase One, all arriving passengers must have a mask in their possession for use on disembarkation, which must be worn in public areas throughout their stay in Antigua and Barbuda, and they must complete a health declaration form. Screenings and thermal checks will occur on arrival and passengers may be asked to undergo coronavirus testing on arrival.


All hospitality accommodations to include hotels, resorts, villas and home rentals must satisfy the stipulations of the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment and be certified prior to reopening to welcome visitors.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas recently announced that it's hoping to bring guests back to its 700 islands and cays as of July 1st.

The plan is part of a phased approach and is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health, key stakeholders, and tourism partners.

Phase One starts on June 15th, and will allow for boaters, yachters and private aviation to return to the destination. Commercial airlines will be allowed to bring in Bahamian citizens, legal residents, home-owners qualifying for economic permanent residency, or the immediate family members or significant others of any of these groups.

All returning persons will continue to have to register at a Bahamas embassy or consulate and obtain a COVID-19 test with a negative result.

During Phase Two, commercial airlines, both international and domestic, will return to the Bahamas, and hotels and vacation rentals, inclusive of Airbnb and HomeAway will be open and accepting guests. Transportation ranging from taxis to jitneys and buses will also be running.

At airports and seaports, temperature screenings for all incoming visitors will be conducted by healthcare personnel, and travellers will be required to wear a face mask in any situation where it is necessary to enforce physical distancing guidelines.

Cuba

Cuban authorities have announced the suspension of all commercial flights in and out of the country and the closure of sea borders starting on April 1st, 2020 until further notice.

The Miami Herald reports that flights back to Cuba will resume in July, however, this information is tentative.

Sunwing is currently selling vacation packages into Varadero, Holguin, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Santa Maria as of July 2nd.

Air Canada Vacations is advertising vacation packages into Varadero and Cayo Guillermo as of September 2020.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is aiming to reopen its borders to international travellers as of July 1st.

Currently, the country's land, sea and air borders remain closed, therefore all flights to and from Dominican Republic have been suspended along with the arrival and departure of all cruises in all ports in the country. All Dominican passengers coming from abroad will be quarantined for two weeks.

The plan is part of a four-phased approach. The reactivation of tourism on July 4th will include the reopening of hotels and airports across the island.

Activities in bars and clubs remain suspended, while restaurants can only operate for take-out and delivery Likewise, national and international events and public, cultural, artistic and sports shows are suspended for the same period.

Bus services (OMSA), subway and cable cars restarted operations at 30% capacity, from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

It is mandatory to keep social distancing and wear face masks in all public spaces, such as banks, supermarkets and offices, among others.

Jamaica

Jamaica will reopen its border to tourists as of June 15th, however, a nightly curfew remains in place for Jamaica.

Though not mandatory, tourists will have a choice to test for COVID-19. 

There will also be new health-screening measures for all passengers entering the country, such as temperature checks and personal sanitization procedures.

Visitors and staff who show temperatures higher than 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit or flu-like symptoms will be flagged by airport, hotel, attraction, and transportation staff for secondary health checks in designated spaces, which may be referred for review to the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia initiated Phase One of its reopening strategy on June 4th. 

Phase One of the reopening includes welcoming international flights at Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) from the United States only. 

Approximately 1,500 hotel rooms in Saint Lucia are being prepared to open in early June, pending completion of a new COVID-19 certification process. To protect residents and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Saint Lucia closed its borders to international markets on Mar. 23rd, 2020. 

The phased approach to reopening, which continues through July 31st, 2020, resulted from national COVID-19 Task Force consultations with on-island industry stakeholders.

New procedures span from the hotel booking process to the airport arrival and hotel experience in Saint Lucia.

Visitors are required to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding their flight. Upon arrival in Saint Lucia, all travellers must continue the use of face masks and physical distancing, and they will be subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities.

Sint Maarten/St. Martin

St. Martin is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening strategy, which kicked off on May 30th, and has allowed a number of restaurants, retailers, and public services to reopen.

Ferry services have resumed at 50 per cent capacity, as have public transportation services, with a 50 per cent capacity limit for any tours and groups.

Princess Juliana International Airport remains open and operational, however travel restrictions, have resulted in the cancellation of all commercial flights to/from Sint Maarten for an undetermined period. Several repatriation flights continue to operate.

More information on an official reopening date for both the French and the Dutch side of the island will be made available soon.

Turks and Caicos

Borders, Providenciales Airport and private jet terminals are set to reopen on July 22nd. 

However, the Grand Turk Cruise Center will remain closed until Aug. 31st. 

Hotels, restaurants and all other tourism-related businesses are still finalizing their health and safety protocols for a reopening. 

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands reopened for tourists on June 1st.

However, the territories COVID-19 state of emergency will be in place until at least July 17th. 

Visitors to USVI will notice new health and safety measures at the hotels, such as the removal of buffets and live music. Recreational areas for kids will be shut down, for example, and all guests and staff will be required to wear masks in public spaces. Social distancing measures are also being implemented at various properties. 

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