Antigua has been open for two weeks; here are the rules for visiting

Jun 18, 2020

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The Caribbean twin islands of Antigua and Barbuda reopened to tourists in early June. But it’s taken two weeks for the country to offer clear guidance for hopeful visitors. TPG’s Brian Kelly canceled a June trip to Antigua last minute due to the lack of information on permitted activities.

However, the nation finally updated its website this past week with travel guidelines, although not everything is clearly explained. Here’s everything we know about visiting Antigua post-coronavirus.

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Related: Jamaica is open to tourists, but only if you follow all of these rules

What to expect

Upon arrival

As of June 15, Antigua’s entry protocol requires travelers prepare for the following procedures upon arrival in the country:

Screen cap from Visit Antigua and Barbuda.
  • Face masks must be worn at all ports of entry and in public spaces from the moment of disembarkation from the plane. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
  • Health screenings and temperature checks will be conducted at each point of entry. Officials will also collect a self-reported traveler accommodation form from each passenger.
  • Arriving passengers may undergo nasal swabbing for rapid antigen tests.
  • Hand washing and sanitization stations will be available in many public spaces.
  • Customs and ground transportation will handle traveler luggage as little as possible.
  • All people must abide by social distancing guidelines of six feet or more.

You will not need to present a negative COVID-19 test before arrival, but having one can help you bypass some of the screening protocols on the ground.

Every incoming traveler will be tested for COVID-19. The test will take 15 minutes to complete, and results will be released within 48 hours, according to Antigua’s travel advisory website. Travelers will have to pay for the test, which costs $100 per person.

Related: 4 Caribbean ports to explore in a day, including Antigua

Until a clean bill of health is received, travelers must remain quarantined. As spelled out on the website, the Ministry of Tourism still hasn’t clarified if the short-term quarantine has to happen under government supervision or if travelers can stay at their own hotels, Airbnbs or homes. Until more clarification is given, it’s safe to assume that your hotel facilities will be sufficient, based on the website guidance.

Travelers entering Antigua from countries with known COVID-19 outbreaks may be asked to quarantine for 14 days. TPG has reached out to the tourism board to clarify this guideline for U.S. travelers, but had not heard back as of the time of publication. It’s probably safe to assume that you won’t have to quarantine beyond the period it takes for you to receive a negative COVID-19 test. But just know that Antigua does reserve the right to require you to do so at its discretion.

There’s a testing loophole for fancy travelers: Private jet passengers will not be screened for health upon arrival.

Curfew

Antigua and Barbuda has introduced a nightly curfew through July 31, and only essential services will be allowed to operate within public spaces between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Tours, car rentals and beach access

Unfortunately, tourists cannot rent cars in Antigua at this time; transportation will be arranged by the country. Furthermore, tour and excursion outings will be limited during the early stages of reopening. (In fact, this is part of the reason Brian Kelly canceled his trip to Antigua — he wasn’t sure if he would be allowed to scuba dive or not.)

Guests staying at a hotel with a beach may access that beach at any time, once a negative test result has been received. Public beaches in Antigua and Barbuda are open on weekdays and weekends between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the current curfew period, which ends on July 31.

How to get there and Where to stay

Airlines

The cheapest flights from the New York City area originate out of Newark (EWR) and stop in Miami (MIA) en route to Antigua (ANU) for $355 round trip in basic economy in early July.

Current flights to Antigua for mid-late June average $450 round trip from major airports across the U.S.

Hotels

If you’re looking to book on points in Antigua, now is not the time to do so. Hotels.com lists a short list of 53 properties on the island with booking availability for mid-June dates, almost all of which are small guesthouses or homestay-type rentals. No major points hotels, such as the Hyatt-owned Inn at English Harbour, appear to be open to the public just yet. Unfortunately, the award-winning Blue Waters Resort and Spa in Antigua does not appear to be open either. However, there are dozens of homes available on Airbnb.

Featured photo by Getty Images.

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