UPDATE: Europe is out, but here’s where Americans can go
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UPDATE: On June 30, we learned that the European Union will not allow Americans when it begins reopening for tourists on July 1. That means we’re taking Greece, and lots of other places, off our summer travel wish list. So where can Americans go? Read on.
Americans are finding something very new when they go to plan international travel: The welcome mat has been rolled up. Most countries are not allowing U.S. visitors right now because of coronavirus. The United States has had more than 126,000 deaths, and remains among the hardest-hit countries on the planet.
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But there is some good news. Americans now have some options. So what’s open? Here’s the list:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- The Dominican Republic
- French Polynesia
- Puerto Rico
- The Maldives
- St Barths
- St. Lucia
- Saint Maarten
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Turks and Caicos
- The U.S. Virgin Islands
We included two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and the USVI) on our list of destinations — in part, because there are so few places that are open to Americans.
Unfortunately, most of Asia, all of Europe and all of Oceania remain off limits.
Be sure to read restrictions carefully before planning a trip.
What places are open for Americans?
Antigua and Barbuda
The country reopened to tourists on June 4. However, travelers will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines, including face masks in public. All snorkel and dive excursions are also banned, and guests can only participate in activities offered via their resorts. They cannot explore the islands.
The Points Guy founder Brian Kelly canceled an early June trip to Antigua after learning that he would have to stay on the resort “unable to do things I would really want to do.” Good news, though, he did end up going.
American Airlines resumed service to the Caribbean with flights to Antigua the last week of May, but it will be some time before things get back to normal.
However, recent legal actions by tourists may change protocols for future incoming tourists.
Aruba is in the middle of phased reopening, with American visitors welcome on July 10. Visitors from Europe can start going to Aruba on July 1.
Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes told the media, “As we prepare to reopen our borders, Aruba has put in place advanced public health procedures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 on the island. We have taken careful and deliberate steps to assess the current situation and make certain it is as safe as possible and appropriate to begin the reopening process.”
Related: Aruba reopening in July
Arrivals will face new screening measures including the possibility of COVID-19 tests on arrival along with temperature checks and medical professionals available. Exact protocols are still being worked out, but so far it does not appear a quarantine will be required.
The country has also placed temporary capacity limits on some tourist spots, especially in popular destinations. Casinos will also reopen with new safety measures in place.
Aruba closed its borders to tourists on March 29, although airline crew members have been exempt from the restrictions.
The country has had 101 confirmed coronavirus cases and three deaths.
The Bahamas implemented an international travel ban on March 24, which will be lifted on July 1 when it officially reopens to tourists. All islands will be open to tourists on that date.
Related: Bahamas reopening July 1
All incoming travelers will be subject to temperature checks at airports and seaports. Social distancing will also be enforced and you must wear a mask in the terminal during security checks and at customer screenings, and at baggage claim.
You’ll need to keep your mask on during the ride to your hotel and you may notice fewer passengers in the shuttle van. Both shuttle and taxi drivers have been mandated to cut passenger capacity by 50%, in accordance with social distancing guidelines. You also won’t be able to sit in the passenger seat of taxis or shuttle vans.
Hotels will be distributing hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to guests, elevator capacity will be limited and “unnecessary literature” in guest rooms will be removed. In other words, fewer magazines and less clutter all around. Buffets will not reopen for the time being and all meals will be single or prepackaged.
Meanwhile, employees will be subject to frequent temperature checks and restaurant staff will be required to wear masks and gloves.
The great news is that guests traveling to the Bahamas will be able to leave their resorts to go on excursions and shopping trips – with some precautions. In order to adhere to social distancing rules, there will be limits on the number of customers allowed in stores and touching merchandise is highly discouraged unless you’re ready to purchase.
When it comes to excursions, travelers are encouraged to bring their own gear while tour operators will be required to cut capacity and clean everything on a set schedule.
A few properties in Nassau will be welcoming guests in July. Atlantis Paradise Island is set to reopen July 1. The Ocean Club a Four Seasons Resort is also supposed to open in July. Baha Mar just reported it has delayed its planned reopening until October (and has made staff cuts). The Melia Nassau Beach-All Inclusive all had been planning on opening July 1, but has now delayed those plans until October 2020. We’re told the Sandals Royal Bahamian will reopen in November.
Most of the resorts have flexible cancellation policies, so you can book with peace of mind, knowing you’ll receive a full refund if reopening plans don’t proceed as planned.
The Bahamas has reported 103 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths.
Bottom Bay in Barbados. (Photo by TommL/Getty Images)
Good news: Barbados is reopening to international travelers beginning on July 12. US commercial flights will resume on July 25 for JetBlue and August 5 for American Airlines. They have instituted mandatory protocols that all inbound travelers have to follow:
- COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited laboratory within 72 hours prior to departure for travelers from high-risk countries (one week for low-risk countries)
- Online embarkation/disembarkation card (ED card) with personal health questions relating to COVID-19 symptoms
- Test upon arrival without a documented negative COVID-19 PCR test result and mandatory quarantine at traveler’s expense until results are returned
- Social distancing, temperature checks and wearing face masks
The local government clarifies that high-risk countries are defined as those that have seen more than 10,000 new cases in the prior seven days and community transmission, which would include the United States as of June 29. In addition, anyone that tests positive for the coronavirus will be placed in isolation where they will “receive care from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.”
More updates on Barbados’ response to coronavirus and any updates to its protocols can be found on the government website.
Bermuda is the latest country to reopen post-coronavirus and roll out the red carpet to Americans. In fact, tourists from many nations will be able to vacation in Bermuda again come July 1.
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The island will resume international commercial air service for visitors as part of its fourth phase of economic reopening after what it calls its “successful management of COVID-19 to date.” L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA) will reopen July 1 as well.
Related: Bermuda opening to Americans July 1
In a news conference announcing the reopening, Bermuda’s Minister of Tourism & Transport Zane DeSilva said, “As we work to finalize the protocols and requirements for travel to Bermuda, rest assured, we will always place the safety of our island and its people above all else.”
Details are still being worked out, but visitors with a negative COVID-19 test within three days of their arrival in Bermuda will be given freedom of movement around the 21-square-mile island.
Related: Visiting Bermuda with kids
Bermuda’s tourism board says it is still finalizing a detailed plan for anyone who tests positive during their visit. There is still no word on when cruise ships will be allowed to return.
More information on coronavirus in Bermuda can be found here.
More reading: New resort and hotel options in Bermuda
The Dominican Republic’s borders have been closed by land, sea and air since March, but the island country announced in early June that it would reopen July 1, although only approximately 30% of the hotels will open at that time. Social distancing guidelines will still be enforced, but not much else by way of specifics have been announced.
The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism director Lucien Echavarria told the Caribbean Journal that 40-50% of the nation’s hotel inventory would open in July with the rest all opened by November at the latest.
Punta Cana International Airport confirmed to Caribbean Journal it is restarting commercial operations on July 1.
There will be temperature checks on arrival, but other screening details remain unclear.
The DR has had more than 23,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 605 deaths.
Related: Dominican Republic reopening July 1
Related coverage: French Polynesia reopening
French Polynesia will officially reopen on July 15. The island nation implemented a 14-day quarantine period for international travelers back in March, a measure that appears to have been successful. No active COVID-19 cases have been reported since May 29, clearing the way for reopening.
If you plan on traveling to French Polynesia in July, you need to submit to a COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test 72 hours before departure.
If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks prior to departure but have an immunity certificate from a doctor, you can bypass testing.
Additionally, all incoming travelers (residents excluded) must provide proof of international travel insurance. Luckily, credit card travel insurance satisfies this requirement. Use a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to pay for your airfare and hotel, then provide a copy of the card’s Guide to Benefits as proof of coverage.
Travelers are also required to have a medical certificate, with the specifics to be communicated by the tourism board.
Four days after arrival, you may be subject to another COVID-19 test. The Ministry of Health and Prevention will be conducting these tests on a random basis, so keep that in mind. In addition to that, guests may also get visits from medical staff, authorized by the Department of Health to supervise.
All travelers are advised to wear a mask throughout their stay and abide by specific sanitary measures. If you do exhibit symptoms during your stay, you must self-report and self-isolate in your room until further instruction from local emergency operators.
If you’re itching to travel to French Polynesia when the border reopens on July 15, there are lots of options for getting there. Be sure to check out our guide on the best way to get to Tahiti using points and miles. The following airlines will be resuming flights:
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- Air Tahiti
- Air Tahiti Nui
- French Bee
- Hawaiian Airlines
Jamaica officially reopened for tourism beginning June 15, but anyone who is hoping to plan a summer vacation here will have to overcome major hurdles. Arriving travelers have to submit a pre-travel health authorization registration with a customs and immigration form, and the government will issue a travel approval document based on those details. Travelers may be denied permission to visit depending on their risk for COVID-19 transmission.
All incoming travelers should expect thermal temperature checks upon arrival, and anyone who shows COVID-19 symptoms or feels ill upon arrival will be quarantined. Even after all those procedures, travelers are expected to adhere to social distancing and face mask policies in public. Travelers are also expected to follow any policies made by tourist and hospitality establishments, which are most likely derived from the government’s 119-page guide for local hospitality procedures.
Related: Jamaica reopening with lots of rules
Phase One of reopening falls between June 15 and 30, and will be limited to a “resilient corridor” of coastline destinations between Negril and Port Antonio. Only licensed tourism businesses and transportation companies that have been assessed by the tourism board can operate in this region during this time.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still spreading in Jamaica, so keep that in mind. The country has reported 615 confirmed cases and 10 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Related: Visiting Jamaica with family
The Maldives has announced one of the most liberal opening policies in the world. Come July 1 all are welcome with no testing or quarantine required.
Details are scarce, with the Tourism Ministry saying they’ll have more details soon, but a spokesperson did confirm that all tourists will be welcome sometime in July, without specifying a date.
Related: Maldives reopening in July
TPG’s Zach Honig wrote about this risky reopening plan and points out the country only has two hospitals and 97 ventilators, so if you were to get sick there, it would be dangerous.
The Maldives has had more than 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths.
Mexico is slowly reopening to American travelers, with Cancun accepting international flights and visitors from the United States starting in June, and Los Cabos following in July.
Grand Residences Riviera Cancun told The Points Guy it is reopening July 4 and offering guests up to 44% off. In a press release, Daniela Trava Albarran, General Manager at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun said:
“Our top priority remains to be providing a safe and enjoyable environment for both our guests and staff. The resort has become known for its high standard of friendliness and sincerity and we have worked hard to maintain this level of service while making the necessary modifications to enhance sanitization measures. We look forward to once again hosting guests as they create new memories along our private beach, open-air landscape and social distance adapted amenities.”
A rebound in the area’s tourism will depend on the reopening of the region’s air hubs in Cancun, Cozumel and Chetumal, and tourists are advised that enhanced screening and cleaning procedures are in effect. Cancun’s International airport (CUN) has reopened to domestic and international flights.
Related: Mexico opening beach destinations
In July, the international terminal at Los Cabos International (SJD) will open, and international visitors will be permitted to enter. From August to September, Cabo is planning to “slowly recover” national and international arrivals, especially those postponed in March and April.
Mexico has had more than 150,000 confirmed cases, and 17,500 deaths from coronavirus.
Puerto Rico will officially reopen to all international travelers on July 15, but don’t expect everything to be back to normal.
Upon arrival, travelers will be subject to health screenings, including COVID-19 testing. You could be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of symptoms.
Hotels will limit capacity at pools to 50%. Fitness centers and spas, which are currently closed, will reopen and operate at 50% capacity sometime later this summer.
Public beaches and water activities are allowed with appropriate social distancing.
If you’re thinking of bypassing some of these restrictions by booking an Airbnb, keep in mind that many of the same rules will apply.
Restaurants are currently open with reduced capacity.
As is now the norm in the age of COVID-19, buffets will not reopen and restaurant staff will serve meals wearing gloves and masks.
Shopping malls will be open but accessible via appointment only. No plans have been announced regarding casinos and playgrounds reopening.
San Juan International Airport (SJU) is open, and TPG found flights as low as $137 roundtrip on Spirit Airlines from Miami.
On May 18, the government of Saint Lucia announced a phased approach to reopening the island’s tourism sector in a responsible manner beginning June 4.
Good news for Americans, as Phase One of reopening includes welcoming international flights at Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) from the United States only.
Visitors will be required to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding their flights to UVF. Once they arrive, guests will undergo health checks and temperatures will be taken. Masks and social distancing will be required for the duration of the stay.
The country shut its borders on March 23. St Lucia has only had 18 confirmed cases and zero deaths.
Phase Two begins August 1, with details to be revealed in the next few weeks.
St. Barthelemy (St. Barths) opened to tourists beginning June 22 , but there are lots of caveats.
Related Coverage: Country-by-country guide to reopening
If you want to visit the Caribbean vacation spot, you’ll need to prove that you have tested negative for COVID-19 72 hours or less before you arrive. Those unable to provide such documentation will be tested on arrival, and will need to isolate at their lodging until results become available.
Visitors who test positive for the virus will be moved into quarantine on the island.
Bruno Magras, president of the island’s territorial council, told the Caribbean Journal:
“Whether you are visiting an island friend or local resident, returning to spend time in your vacation home or coming back to spend some vacation time on the island, St Barth is pleased to welcome you back. Island beaches are open without restriction, restaurants and boutiques are operating as usual, houses of worship are open and holding services and nautical services as well as the other services to which you are accustomed are being provided as usual.”
Related: St Barths reopening on June 22
For those staying longer than seven days, a second COVID-19 test will be required.
You’ll need to plan carefully. There are no direct flights from the U.S. so make sure the country you are arriving from is allowing American tourists.
St Barths has reported only six cases of coronavirus and zero deaths.
St. Maarten was supposed to be reopening to American and European tourists on July 1. Unfortunately, late on June 30, The Council of Ministers announced it would delay the acceptance of Americans for at least two weeks.
This policy change came about following an internal dispute where the French side of the island (Saint-Martin) threatened to close the island’s internal border if flights from the U.S. were permitted to land at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
Several resorts are again accepting reservations.
Delta had planned to resume service from the U.S., but this plan appears to be on hold, if temporarily.
There are several protocols that travelers are expected to follow, and it won’t be a vacation away from the social distancing that you may have hoped for initially. This graphic illustrates some of what you can expect, including face coverings, health screenings, and increased cleaning.
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
The local government announced that it will stage a phased opening, with the first one beginning July 1. Visitors from all countries are welcome, but everyone has to fill out the “VINCY” coronavirus questionnaire form and undergo testing and a 24-hour quarantine upon arrival (or until negative test results come back).
The next phase begins August 1, when visitors can forgo the 24-hour quarantine by providing a positive antibody test (within 5 days of traveling) or a negative PCR test (within 2 days). PCR testing on arrival and a health questionnaire are still mandatory.
Americans can now travel to The Seychelles, but only those with big bucks are welcome.
Related: Seychelles reopening
Beginning this June, foreign tourists are allowed to vacation in the Seychelles, but the government’s tourism ministry is only looking for “high-end” visitors for now, according to Seychelles Nation.
“Only visitors traveling on private jets and chartered flights, and who will be heading off directly to remote island resorts, will be allowed in,” the outlet reported.
Visitors will not be allowed to leave their island resorts during their stay this month.
Commercial flights will begin again in July, but the government said it expects visitor numbers to be limited for a while even once they resume.
Tourists will be required to be tested for COVID-19 48 hours before they arrive, and will have to present proof of their lodging arrangements before being granted entry.
Visitors will be charged $50 to support local public health measures, and the tourism department is planning to introduce an app that will track tourists’ movements to facilitate contact tracing.
Turks and Caicos
More good news on reopening from the Caribbean. Turks and Caicos, a group of 40 low-lying coral islands popular with tourists in the Caribbean, is reopening for international visitors beginning July 22. The Providenciales Airport will reopen on this date.
Related: Turks and Caicos reopening
This British Overseas Territory includes the island of Providenciales, also known as Provo. Details on the reopening remain sparse, but international flights are resuming. The islands have seen 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
We don’t know yet what testing, screening or quarantine procedures will be in place, but we should have details in the next few weeks.
Related coverage: Why I love Turks and Caicos
We first learned about the reopening from the water adventure company Big Blue Collective. They wrote in a press release, “Time for all of us to get our island game on and for you to think about getting back down here. Our boats, kayaks, paddle boards and kites will be ready.”
Resorts and hotels are also reopening. Ocean Club Resorts told TPG that its sister properties are reopening as of July 22. They are offering 25% off for the remainder of the year.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands is becoming the latest to announce it will welcome tourists again. There will be no quarantine required for healthy visitors and people will be free to leave their hotel or resort and explore.
Related: U.S. Virgin Islands reopening
The U.S. Virgin Islands, which includes St. Thomas and St. Croix, is under a state of emergency until July 11, but it welcomed back tourists as of June 1 with restrictions.
Related Coverage: State-by-state guide to coronavirus reopening
Flights are resuming, but there are some things to know if you decide to book. A spokeswoman for the USVI tourism board told TPG, “There are routine temperature checks and health screenings at the ports of entry and public places. There is no quarantine required if travelers are healthy. Testing, quarantine, and isolation protocols are in place for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and also for contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.”
A toolkit for travelers and other updates are available at www.usviupdate.com.
Important caveats and things to know
COVID-19 continues to spread around the world. While some countries have done a good job of containing the virus, there is still much we don’t know. Travel is still considered a risky undertaking. Know the rules and regulations for the place you are planning to visit, and make sure you have completed all the necessary steps (like pre-departure testing in some cases). There is also the possibility countries could change their minds on reopening at the last minute (like we saw in Portugal and Iceland), so make sure you are booking refundable tickets and hotels or purchasing travel insurance.
What about Europe?
The entire EU is closed to Americans and will likely remain that way until the total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. falls. Americans can go to the U.K., but a 14-day required quarantine and restrictions on internal travel make the prospect less than ideal.
Additional reporting by Ariana Arghandewal, Jordyn Fields, Zach Honig, Brian Kelly, Brian Kim, Samantha Rosen and Zach Wichter.
Featured image from Aruba in December of 2017 by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.
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