Antigua reopening has been in the news for the last week. If you are a tired and vacation-hungry American, this is one country you can visit right away. Actually, there are 2, but Mexico doesn’t really look like a safe place to be in right now (later about that).
Antigua and Barbuda has recorded 26 COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths. According to Worldometers, the island currently has one active case. Antigua seems to have handled the pandemic pretty well, and you would probably be safer there than in many areas in the U.S. That is, if you don’t mind the chances of flying next to a mask-less free-spirited soul who believes that their inalienable right not to give a damn about anyone is the reason why the founding fathers fought the British. Oh, well.
The first post-COVID 19 international flight landed in Antigua on June 4.
Getting to Antigua and Barbuda
Every major U.S. airline flies to Antigua, but only American has been flying since Antigua reopening so far. All flights connect via Miami, and the RT fares from New York at the beginning of July are $400+ for Economy and $900+ for Business, or 30,000 and 50,000 miles respectively (plus $100+ for taxes). Later, in July and August, some fares jump into the $1,000s – quite weird, actually.
Antigua reopening government procedures
Here are some highlights.
You must complete a health declaration form on arrival.
You must register your accommodation.
They might test you at the airport or not – at their discretion.
If they do, they might or might not quarantine you for 48 hours while waiting for the result.
The will accept a negative result received within 48 hours before your flight, so better get that test.
Health insurance is not mandatory.
You must leave the airport in a certified taxi.
The list of certified hotels: Admirals Inn – Gunpowder Suites, Antigua Village, Siboney Beach Club, Buccaneer Beach Club, Hammock Cove Resort, Heritage Hotel, Hodges Bay Resort & Spa, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, The Catamaran Hotel, The Moxy Hotel and Tamarind Hills Villas. The latest information is available here.
The fine for not wearing a mask in public places in Antigua is $6,000. No, not kidding.
More information: Antigua and Barbuda Health and Safety Protocols.
What do people say?
There are still few tourists so travel reports since Antigua reopening have been scarce. Here is what one person on Trip Advisor tells about her arrival experience.
Just arrived in Antigua. I am impressed and surprised as to how efficient they are at the airport … While in the airport, we went through temperature check. Given a form to fill up, which asked about covid exposure and such. We were interviewed by the nurse who went over the form and reinforced covid precautions. We were asked if we have covid results to present. We said yes and it was negative. We were escorted to see a doctor who examined our covid results from 4 days ago. The doctor gave us an ok. No restrictions or quarantine. We came from NYC and I was expecting to be grilled, retested and quarantined. While we were there, there was an army of staff monitoring the flow of passengers in the airport. It’s impressive. I believe having our covid results ready made our entry easy …
There are also a lot of Airbnb condominiums and pool villas at amazing prices. I’ve already written about the virtues of staying at a vacation rental vs. hotel, especially during the pandemic, and I know some folks agree or don’t, so I won’t go there again. The problem is that if you’re leaning toward an Airbnb, you can only stay at a government certified property, and I haven’t found a list. A Google search, however, did find a few.
So, why not Mexico?
For the same reason why I wouldn’t recommend Florida. Not just because the country has registered 160,000 known cases and over 19,000 deaths, but because the cases and deaths are on the rise.
This is Cancun. Does it look like they have a good grip on things?
If that’s not enough, some travel reports concern me even more (bolding’s mine).
Once we got to the resort, we saw that all of their employees were wearing masks and about half had on clear face shields as well. None of the guests we saw were wearing masks. Their beach was fully open to the guests with NO restrictions whatsoever. The pool was the same way. They had plenty of chairs grouped by 4 and 6 feet apart. Absolutely no one was wearing a mask at the pool or the beach … The beach waiters were wearing masks with a shield, but no guests had them on anywhere … We have a beach-front penthouse and could see quite far down the beach and there were definitely a lot of people on the beach and in the water across multiple properties on both sides. It really felt like it did before COVID and that was a relief and felt normal.
If none of this scares you,– well, then Hyatt Zilara Cancun reopens on July 1.
If you’re low risk and simply must go now, I’d pick Antigua.
What are your travel plans?