Caribbean Destinations Respond To New U.S. Requirements For Negative Covid Tests

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The U.S. and the U.K. join Canada and other countries with new requirements for passengers arriving by air to provide proof of a negative Covid test in order to board flights. The new rules apply to everyone, even citizens returning home. Destinations and resorts are upping their capacity to provide visitors with quick-turnaround testing to meet the new demand. While Canada now requires a 72 hour PCR test, the new protocol of a negative COVID-19 test (either PCR or antigen) for the U.S. takes effect on January 26, 2021.

Aruba

Aruba.

For those visiting Aruba, the island said it has the facilities and procedures in place to meet the requirement for re-entry into the U.S. Aruba has expanded testing and has state-of-the-art hospitals and medical facilities that offer PCR tests to outbound travelers, with an average turnaround time of 24 hours. The island’s main testing areas are conveniently located near hotels, and appointments can be made in advance, so U.S. bound travelers can ensure they’ll be tested before departing.

Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, said they “can reassure our travelers they will have easy access to testing in time for their departure.”

The Bahamas

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The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation said the island has successfully implemented stringent measures to protect its citizens, residents and visitors, and “is well positioned to adhere to this new order, seamlessly integrating the CDC’s testing requirements into The Bahamas’ existing COVID-19 protocols.” Currently, visitors to The Bahamas who stay longer than four nights and five days are required to take a rapid antigen test on the fifth day of their stay, with a number of testing sites throughout The Bahamas approved to administer tests.

This means travelers readily have access to the viral tests, now required to enter the U.S. “The Bahamas Government will continue to work in accordance with the CDC to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has been our top priority since the onset of this global pandemic,” said Dionisio D’Aguilar, The Bahamas Minister of Tourism & Aviation. “Our journey has not been without bumps in the road, but we have made great strides in combatting this virus as evidenced by the very low case numbers we have now achieved.” Additionally, some hotels will offer COVID-19 tests on site which guests can use to meet the new CDC requirements.

Belize

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Overwater cabanas at Tobacco Caye Paradise. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Meanwhile, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), after working with the Belize Ministry of Health and Wellness, said that testing will be expanded and made available to all passengers departing Belize for the U.S., which accounts for 70% of the country’s visitors. Further details including cost and testing locations across the country are forthcoming.

Jamaica

Bamboo Rafting down Jamaica’s Martha Brae River. Photo via Lovicarious

Steps are being taken to ramp up Jamaica’s COVID-19 testing capacity, in light of changes in testing requirements by the United States, which is the country’s largest tourism source markets. Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett named a special task force to spearhead efforts to boost Jamaica’s COVID-19 testing capacity.

“This task force will work along with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and tourism stakeholders, both within the public and private sectors, to boost Jamaica’s capacity to facilitate wide scale COVID-19 testing for visitors to the island. We will also undertake extensive consultation with our local and international tourism partners to develop and introduce innovative solutions to effectively address this challenge,” said Minister Bartlett in a statement.

Saint Lucia

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St. Lucia reopened tourism in early July.

Saint Lucia said it is set to meet the demand for on-island Covid-19 testing and processing with multiple Covid-19 PCR and antigen (rapid) testing options. Travelers can obtain a Covid-19 test at select hotels or at local testing facilities, with test results returned within the requisite 72-hour time frame. There are additional options in development to expand testing locations. Travelers can make appointments for tests once they arrive on island or through their Covid-certified hotel. Pricing varies based on location and the type of test administered.

As of Jan. 14, the hotels and villas offering complimentary Covid-19 antigen (rapid) testing to qualified guests include: Anse Chastanet; all five Bay Gardens properties; Calabash Cove Resort & Spa; Caille Blanc Villa & Hotel; Cap Maison Resort & Spa; Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa; Jade Mountain; Ladera Resort; Marigot Bay Resort and Marina; Sandals Resorts in Saint Lucia; Serenity at Coconut Bay; Sugar Beach – A Viceroy Resort; Stonefield Villa Resort and Ti Kaye Resort & Spa. More properties in Saint Lucia are anticipated to roll out complimentary testing in the coming weeks.

Majority of this report originally appeared on Travel Market Report. Read HERE. Header photo courtesy Grand Caribe Belize.

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