Category Archives: COVID-19

Caribbean Islands Are Reopening, but Where Can Americans REALLY Travel Right Now?

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UPDATE 8.18.2020

United States Virgin Islands are closed to leisure travelers effective 8.19.2020. Source.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is closing to leisure visitors in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The decision is effective Wednesday, August 19, and will last for a period of at least one month.

Effective immediately, hotels, villas, Airbnb accommodations, guest houses, temporary vacation housing and charter vessels and similar businesses have been ordered not to accept or book any new reservations for 30 days. As of Wednesday, August 19, 2020, accommodations providers are barred from admitting or checking-in any guests for 30 days unless the order is lifted sooner.

Just recently I wrote that USVI was the most convenient and safe Caribbean destination for U.S. travelers. The territory was open from June 1, and the number of cases were low. Just goes to show all of us how fluid the situation is. We shouldn’t take anything for granted.

In addition to the travel ban to USVI, several states, including NY added USVI to the quarantine list (anyone returning from USVI must self-quarantine for 14 days).

UPDATE 8.13.2020
Added: On August 6, Department of State has lifted the Global Level 4 Global Health Advisory.

With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions.

Why is it matter? It probably would ease up the pressure on the travel insurance market. It was pricey and crazy difficult to find a policy that would cover COVID-19. It remains to be seen how the market reacts.
Added:

Belize was supposed to reopen on August 15 — not anymore!

Belize had to postpone its August 15th reopening. In the past week, Belize has experienced a spike in new cases (from 57 people to 177 as of August 11). Just when you think you’ve dodged the bullet…

Barbados is practically a no-go for travelers from “high risk countries”

Barbados has experienced a slight spike from 110 to 143 cases between July 31 and August 11. Barbados updated its safety protocols on August 5. Basically, even if you can get a PCR test within 72 hours from your travel date, Barbados still puts you under a 14-day quarantine with a chance to get “released” after 5-7 days if you take another negative test.

Grenada has opened too, but it almost seems like a no-go for high-risk Americans

High-risk (Red) nations: Travelers entering from countries assessed as high risk (Red) must produce proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 using a PCR test within seven days prior to arrival. Travelers will be re-tested at the airport. Travelers testing negative on arrival will still need to quarantine for 14 days at an accommodation approved by authorities. Travelers testing positive will be quarantined in a state facility.

Source
End of the Update

UPDATED 8.18.2020

USVI is closed for leisure travelers — see above!

The United States Virgin Islands is open to travelers, and you don’t even need a passport, let alone a PCR test. The COVID-19 numbers are still low even though the USVU have been open since June 1.

Antigua and Barbuda

Photo by Alec Brunelle on Unsplash

Here is my June 18 post: Antigua and Barbuda

Things have changed slightly. A month ago there were 26 COVID-19 cases on the island; today (7/20/2020) the number is 76, and it keeps climbing. No, it’s not a huge spike or anything, but still something to keep in mind.

Another change is that all travelers must now bring a negative PCR test taken within 7 days of arrival. Seven days is doable, although it still can be difficult in some parts of the U.S.

Flights from the U.S. are available on American and Delta.

Aruba

Caribbean Islands Are Reopening: Aruba street tram

Photo by Katalin Hoczane Melich on Unsplash

Aruba has been open to Americans since July 10. Well, kinda.

So if you live in a U.S. state not listed above, you have an option to take a test upon arrival. For everyone else — getting a test within 72 hours and uploading the result within 12 doesn’t seem easy to me. Flights are available on Delta, United, and JetBlue.

 The Bahamas

UPDATE: See the latest update at the top of the post.

As if you needed another reason to monitor the situation closely before making a travel decision, the Bahamas will bar all travelers from enteringexcept for commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.” This change of heart has occurred literally overnight as I started working on this piece yesterday, July 19.

Wow, just wow!

Opened July 1, flights from the U.S. are available. You must present a negative PCR test taken within one week from the departure. Atlantis is open too. Read this if you’re a Caesars Diamond member and want to book your 4-day complimentary trip:

Caesars Diamond Status Match revised: Vegas, Atlantic City, and the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas Reopenings

Barbados

Caribbean Islands Are Reopening: Aruba, Radisson Blu

The view from the balcony of my Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados room

You’re expected to present a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. However, if you’re unable to do so, you have an option of getting one at the airport or at a testing center. If you come from a “high risk setting” you will be monitored daily with a “follow-up test at day 7.”

While not ideal, it does give you a chance to enjoy your time on the island, although that daily monitoring doesn’t sound like fun. Flights from the U.S. are currently available on United (to be followed by JetBlue in August).

UPDATE: There seem to be some discrepancies based on this Tripadvisor forum threadI would wait until the health protocols are clarified.

Bermuda

The view from the Fairmont Southampton Beach Club terrace

Not a Caribbean island, but immensely beautiful, Bermuda has been open since July 1. Flights are available on Delta, with JetBlue starting in August. It seems American won’t be resuming their flights to Bermuda in August.

Here’s my previous post: Bermuda Travel Will Resume on July 1, 2020: Here Is What You Want to Know

Since my last post (see below) Bermuda authorities have changed their requirements. On July 11, Bermuda stopped testing travelers upon arrival. However, while you’re encouraged to obtain a negative test result within 72 hours of your departure, up-to one-week negative results will do. You’ll also be charged “a $75 fee per traveller … which includes the cost of all COVID-19 testing in Bermuda.” What “all COVID-19 testing” are they talking about now, since you’re required to take your test pre-departure? Beats me. Please read the whole document, it’s gotten quite extensive in the last 3 weeks.

Jamaica

Photo by Juan Rojas on Unsplash

If you’re coming from Arizona, Florida, New York, and Texas you must “upload a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a College of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited medical laboratory” within 10 days of travel. You also must register for a travel authorization online. You’ll be able to stay only at a property from the Resilient Corridor Accommodation Lists. Seems unfair to include New York in this list considering our dramatic drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, but I guess our reputation precedes us. 🙂

Flights are available on American, JetBlue, and Spirit.

St. Lucia

Caribbean Islands Are Reopening St. Lucia

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

St. Lucia mandates that all travelers arriving from outside of the “Caribbean bubble” have their negative PCR test taken within 7 days of travel. In addition, you can only stay at an “approved COVID-19 accommodation.” You must also complete and print out a Pre-Arrival Travel Registration Form.

Flights are available on American and Delta.

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

Photo by Trenton Jones on Unsplash

Visitors to St. Vincent and Grenadines can do one of the following:

  • PCR test within 2 days of arrival
  • Antibody test within 5 days
  • Test at the airport upon arrival.

You must also complete an online application and other forms.

American starts flying on Aug 8, otherwise, Air Canada can get you there via Toronto.

TURKS AND CAICOS

Photo by Paola Galimberti on Unsplash

Turks and Caicos reopens today, July 22. A negative PCR test result is required, and you must take the test within five days of your landing. You also need to apply for and receive a travel authorization.

Flights: American, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit.

Countries closed or with tough testing requirements

Curaçao

The official Curaçao updates site doesn’t even mention Americans.

Dominica: Negative test 24-72 hours prior to travel

Dominica will reopen on Aug 7.

Grenada: Date TBD for Americans

Plus you’ll need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 7 days of travel AND get tested again on arrival.

St. Barts: 72 hours 

St Barts has been open to tourists since June 22, 2020, but getting there is slightly complicated. You can arrive via Antigua, San Juan, or St. Maarten (which will supposedly open to Americans on Aug 1). I guess the easiest route would be via San Juan continuing on TradeWind.

St. Maarten: 72 hours

Will supposedly open to American tourists on August 1. Disclaimer: Subject to change. Their disclaimer, not mine. 🙂

Closed for business

  • USVA: Closed on Aug 14 for 30 days
  • Anguilla: Closed indefinitely
  • Belize: Will (might) reopen on August 15
  • British Virgin Islands: Closed
  • Cayman Islands: Closed until August 31
  • Costa Rica: Officially closed until Aug 1 (but will probably be extended)
  • Guadeloupe: Closed indefinitely
  • Martinique: Closed indefinitely
  • Montserrat: Closed indefinitely
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis: Closed indefinitely
  • Trinidad and Tobago: Closed indefinitely

Wide open but …

Dominican Republic

I haven’t been to the most of the Caribbean islands, but I’ve been to the DR countless times. And now that they’ve fully reopened and don’t require any tests at all (unless you’ve got a fever upon arrival), I would love nothing more than to hop on a plane and find myself sipping Cuba Libres on a beach in a little over 4 hours.

However, the DR would be the last country I’d visit during the pandemic — that is if I hadn’t decided already to stay put. Or if I did, I would forget about AI resorts. I would lock myself in a villa and never visit a local bar or restaurant or talk to people. Somehow I just don’t see Dominicans committing to social distance. 🙂

This doesn’t instill a lot of confidence either.

It might not look too scary compared to some U.S. states, but there are much safer places under the Caribbean sun to enjoy yourself right now.

Mexico 

Mexico is also wide open for air travel and I don’t think It’s ever been fully closed. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are still on the rise.

This is the chart for Cancun from 1 month ago.

And here is a fresh one.

Yes, the infection is flattening a little, it seems — after it nearly doubled in the last month.

Here is the COVID-19 situation in Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos if you’re curious.

To recap

So, now you’ve got a comprehensive list of places you can really go to in the Caribbean (at the time of writing!!!) — all in one place. Please choose your destination wisely based on the current COVID-19 situation and ease of travel and use the links to the local health authorities I’ve provided to check if things have changed for the better or worse. I also recommend reading the relevant forums on Tripadvisor, Flyertalk, or others to see what actual travelers are saying. While you can’t rely 100% on what people say, it can help you get a better picture.

Have fun, stay safe and comment! 🙂

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