Dreaming of a sandy beach? A country-by-country guide to Caribbean reopenings
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By a show of hands, who’s ready for a beach vacation? We definitely are.
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Unfortunately, the world itself may not be ready for us to return to its beaches, at least in the Caribbean. As of the time of publication, this sunny vacation region has closed many of its airports for the time being, with various additional restrictions detailed below. Some countries are tentatively set to re-open in the next few weeks, although quarantine extensions could be announced at any time.
This guide is current as of the time of publication, and we will keep information regularly updated as the global situation progresses.
And if you missed it, here’s our country by country guide to reopenings
All of Anguilla’s entry points are closed to tourists, both by air as well as by sea, although repatriation flights are allowed to land for retrieving foreign nationals. Tourists are not allowed under any circumstances, and crew must minimize ground time and cannot make an overnight stay.
Right now, lockdown restrictions are valid through May 31, 2020, although the nation has not yet announced an intention to reopen after that date.
Antigua and Barbuda: Reopening on June 1
International flights have been suspended since late March, but local government has announced the intention of reopening to tourists on June 1. Right now, only country residents are allowed to enter the country and will be subject to enhanced health screenings and a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Repatriation flights are allowed to land to pick up stranded foreigners.
Aruba: Opening between June 15 and July 1
Good news from Aruba: Borders will reopen to travelers soon, with a tentative date set between June 15 and July 1.
The Caribbean Journal, reporting Aruba Tourism Authority, said, “For travelers who already have a trip booked and are concerned restrictions may impact your travel dates, please contact your hotels and airlines directly for an update on their rescheduling policies. We will welcome guests back to our sunny shores as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Aruba closed its borders to tourists on March 29, although crew members have been exempt from the restriction.
The Bahamas are under emergency orders through May 30, with no announced reopening date as of the time of publication. No international visitors are allowed to enter or disembark on Bahamian soil for any reason, including transit. The nation’s airports are closed to all incoming passenger flights, although airlines are permitted to fly empty aircraft into the Bahamas to retrieve international visitors.
A mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government facility has been instituted for all visitors entering the country between May 4 and May 17. Passenger flights are not allowed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. Airline crews may spend one night in Barbados, but they must be quarantined at the hotel until departure. Alternatively, crew may remain onboard the aircraft. 90% of the hotels and all of the restaurants on the island are closed due to the lockdown. Current lockdown restrictions for Barbados don’t expire until July 1, 2020.
Alas if the Blue Hole was on your travel list for the spring; all of Belize’s borders and ports of entry are completely closed to tourists. Current restrictions expire on May 30, 2020, with no news announced for reopening yet. A few exceptions are made for specialized incoming flights such as cargo, humanitarian, medical and relief, technical stops where no passengers disembark, emergency/diversion and repatriation flights.
Only Bermuda citizens are allowed into the country at this time. Current restrictions expire on May 31, 2020. All incoming travelers must complete health forms, including flight and medical crew as well as passengers. Forms should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Ferry flights to claim outbound travelers are allowed, and overnight/crew rest is not allowed.
British Virgin Islands: Closed
The British Virgin Islands are off-limits to tourists by sea or air through June 1, 2020, and non-citizen crew members must stay within the port facility. No reopening date has been set as of the date of this publication.
Cayman Islands: Closed
The Cayman Islands have banned all foreign nationals from visiting the islands, which are under curfew each day from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Locals stay within their homes during those hours. Restrictions extend through May 31, 2020, and there has been no talk of reopening borders as of right now. Repatriation and emergency flights are permitted. Returning residents must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, and no crew rest is available.
Cuba suspended international travel for commercial and charter flights until further notice, beginning April 2. Transiting flights must depart within three hours of landing. Crew can only remain in the airfield compound, and must avoid interacting with anyone local.
Note that these measures are specific for COVID-19; there are a number of additional restrictions for U.S. travelers visiting Cuba that are not related to the pandemic.
All commercial air and sea access to the nation of Dominica is suspended until further notice. Strict curfews are still being observed as well. There has been no announcement for reopening as of the time of this post’s publication.
Dominican Republic: Closed
The country’s borders are closed by land, sea and air through May 31, and all incoming travelers must be quarantined for two weeks.
All of Grenada’s airports are closed for commercial passenger traffic through May 20, and a date for reopening hasn’t been set yet. Cargo aircraft and pre-approved medical workers are allowed to land.
All international flights have been halted until further notice. U.S. citizens who are currently in Haiti need to coordinate directly with the U.S. embassy there.
All airports and seaports have been closed for inbound international passengers through May 31. All aircraft must have a newly instituted landing permit from Jamaica, and there is no reopening date as of right now.
All international flights have been halted for non-citizens until further notice, and tourism businesses such as hotels are also limited to serving guests who have been stranded. All spas, pools and other amenities are closed. Restrictions expire on May 18, although reopening has not been announced and only one hotel on the island is open, according to Universal Weather & Aviation: the Bakoua Hotel. There is a stay-at-home curfew for Martinique residents spanning from midnight to 5 a.m. Airline flight crew and support staff needed are exempt from travel restrictions, although overnight stays should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Puerto Rico: Open, with restrictions and quarantine requirements
Although Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, it merits a separate entry as one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the usual ease of access for U.S. travelers doesn’t exist right now, as the island has been on lockdown since March 2020. All port traffic, ferries and cruises have been suspended, while all travelers arriving by air must pass through San Juan International Airport (SJU) and undergo enhanced health screening, then participate in a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Furthermore, Puerto Rico has enacted a nightly curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., which has been extended through May 25. People are only allowed to leave home for essential purchases such as groceries, and must wear a face mask inside any establishment.
St. Barts: Closed
The country has closed its border to foreign nationals who don’t have a residence permit from the United Kingdom, or one of the Schengen Area or European Union countries. Current restrictions expire on June 1, but a reopening date has not yet been announced.
Saint Kitts and Nevis: Closed
Saint Kitts and Nevis just loosened its 24-hour curfew on May 18, imposing instead a nightly curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. through May 23. Current restrictions expire on May 31, with no reopening date announced yet. All inbound passenger traffic has been banned since March 25, and data for all repatriation flights must be submitted at least five days before arrival and departure times. All information for repatriation flights must be received at least five days before actual arrival and departure date requested. Required information includes date of birth, passport number and expiration date for each passenger, as well as a list of all countries visited by each flight crew member within the last 14 days. Crew members are not allowed to stay overnight or disembark from the plane.
Saint Lucia: Opening June 4 to U.S. travelers
Saint Lucia government officials have announced a phased approach for reopening the island’s tourism sector, to begin on June 4, 2020. The first phase is nothing but good news for U.S. travelers: Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) will begin receiving international flights from the United States only.
Visitors must present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding their flights to UVF. Once they arrive, they will undergo health and temperatures checks. Masks and social distancing will be required for the duration of the stay. The second phase of reopening will take place on Aug. 1, 2020, with details to be announced in coming weeks.
Although St. Lucia has only had 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases with no deaths, the country closed its borders back on March 23.
Sint Maarten: Closed
There are no commercial flights scheduled into Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport, and there is no scheduled restart date as of now. Repatriation flights are allowed to land empty in order to retrieve international tourists returning home. Current restrictions expire on June 1, 2020, but no reopening date has been announced yet.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Closed
All international passenger flights were suspended on April 2. Current restrictions expire on May 31, but a reopening date has yet to be announced. Also, all travelers who entered from the U.S., Canada, China, Iran, South Korea, the United Kingdom or any European Union country within the last 14 days must undergo a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.
Trinidad and Tobago: Closed
The island nation of Trinidad and Tobago issued a stay-at-home order in late March, banning all tourists. While the two islands began easing restrictions on May 12, the reopening plan doesn’t yet include relaunching tourism. Prime Minister Keith Rowley said in May that the nation’s borders will remain closed until the government is confident the virus is contained.
In the meantime, the government is giving local hotels $50 million in grants toward remodeling costs in order to prepare for when international tourists are welcome to return; officials also launched a “Dreaming of Tobago” campaign on social media.
Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Airlines is receiving a government bailout, and released a video on the airline’s new procedures in the wake of the outbreak. Again, however, there is no stated timeline on when flights or travel will resume.
The country has received high praise for keeping COVID-19 cases to a minimum; in fact, the nation ranked #1 in the world for meeting reopening requirements from Oxford University.
Turks and Caicos: Closed
All international flights have been suspended until June 1, and cruise ships have been banned through June 30. Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is closed to international passenger travel, along with all other airports in the country, although there are exceptions for emergencies, medical evacuations and cargo flights. An evening curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. is in effect until May 25, although this guideline was relaxed somewhat on May 4.
Going to the beach, grocery stores, hardware store, pharmacies and other open-air businesses is currently permitted, although restaurants are only open for takeout. Clinics and pharmacies are the only businesses permitted to remain open on Sundays through May 25. Resorts and hotels have different opening dates; the government suggests reaching out to your specific property for information.
U.S. Virgin Islands: Closed until June 1
Although the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of United States territory, the islands have limited incoming travel even for domestic travelers. The only passengers allowed to enter the USVI are residents, medical personnel, business travelers and property owners. Furthermore, local government has implemented rigorous “safer at home” protocols, resulting in closed restaurants and similar non-essential businesses. Local beaches are also closed.
The goal is to reopen the islands for tourism by June 1, when hotel reservations will begin to be honored and restaurants will reopen.
Although some countries are opening back up, it’s still too early to hope for spontaneity in travel planning. Instead, the best way to operate this summer will be by planning well in advance. So if you’re excited about some Caribbean sun — a trip to Saint Lucia, perhaps — make your reservations early, and make sure they’re fully refundable in case anything changes.
Featured photo by Westend61/Getty Images.
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