Health Pre-Screening at Airport Gains Ground in the Caribbean

Many countries and jurisdictions across the world are reopening for travel, with the new normal requirement of a negative COVID-19 test result from travelers gaining ground in the Caribbean too. Besides Belize, other Caribbean destinations that now require pre-screening upon arrival to the airport include: Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In almost all cases, passengers are responsible for the cost of the tests; a test inside Belize’s international airport costs US$50.00 per test, whether rapid test or PCR test. According to World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism employs nearly three million people in the Caribbean region.

New Air Travel Regulations in Puerto Rico match Belize’s

In Puerto Rico, new travel regulations officially began July 15, which includes bringing a negative coronavirus test taken 72 hours within travel. A COVID-19 test will be carried out on those who do not bring test results with them, and those who test positive will be quarantined for 14 days. Visitors will also be required to report where they will be staying and must respond to a tracking app on their health. Notably, Belize has enacted very similar travel regulations, with revisions released mid-October since its October 1 reopening.

Puerto Rico Caribbean travel health screening

Passengers arrive in Puerto Rico amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Josian E. Bruno Gómez

However in Puerto Rico, the Luis Muñoz Marín International (LMM) Airport has remained open and, unlike other Caribbean destinations, Puerto Rico did not close its borders amid the pandemic. On the other hand, Belize closed its Northern Border (with Mexico) on March 21, with the Phіlір Ѕ.W. Gоldѕоn Іntеrnаtіоnаl Аіrроrt (PGIA) сlоѕеd Маrсh 23 аftеr thе lаѕt ѕсhеdulеd flіght dераrted; Belize later confirmed their first case of COVID-19 on March 23.

“Though Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport never officially closed to visitors, there was little activity in April and May. The easing of the coronavirus lockdown on the island in mid-June generated more passenger activity. Though this is still 75 percent lower than a year ago, arrivals increased 175 percent from the previous month,” said Discover Puerto Rico in its latest “Industry Report June 2020.”

According to the report, there were 41,159 passenger arrivals at LMM Airport in May. In June, as travel restrictions eased, this number had increased considerably to 113,355 arriving passengers. However, travel has dropped since the latest Executive Order. Aerostar Airport Holdings reports that arriving passengers into LMM fell 28.6 percent the week ending Aug. 2 compared to mid-July.

Health Screening at Belize’s Airport on arrival

More than two weeks ago, Belize reopened its international airport on October 1 for leisurely travel. For all arriving passengers to Belize’s international airport thereafter, the Belize Travel Health App must be downloaded and completed with required information. All travelers are encouraged to take a PCR Test within the 72 hours of boarding their flight to Belize. Depending on health screening results at the airport, you may be randomly selected for secondary testing. However if a traveler does not bring their result, they’ll be required to take a rapid test; testing is at their own expense of US$50.00.

Article adapted from www.TheWeeklyJournal.com.

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