CDC lowers risk warning for Jamaica and the Bahamas

Dec 23, 2021

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As the omicron variant spreads across the globe, travel is changing by the minute. Countries are adding new restrictions and, in some cases, shutting down — right before the busy holiday season.

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But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently lowered the warning level for two Caribbean destinations popular with Americans, just in time for the holidays. Jamaica and the Bahamas, which were at “Level 3: High Level of COVID-19,” have been lowered to “Level 2: Moderate Level of COVID-19.” Under Level 3, the CDC advises that travelers be fully vaccinated and that unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to the destination. 

The CDC’s guidance doesn’t change much under Level 2, saying that unvaccinated travelers “who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to this destination. If you must travel and have concerns, talk to your doctor.” 

This ranking is determined based on the number of cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days and new case trajectory (if the new cases rate is going up, down or remaining stable). Level 3 notices indicate an area with at least 100 to 500 new cases per 100,000 people. Level 2 indicates an area with between 50 and 99 cases per 100,000 people. You can read more about how each level is defined on the CDC website.

The U.S. Department of State also has a list of travel advisories related to COVID-19, and both countries are currently at “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.”

If you’re considering a trip to Jamaica or the Bahamas in light of the CDC advisory, here’s what you need to know. 

Fully vaccinated travelers staying outside the “resilient corridors” with a negative PCR test taken within three days of departure to Jamaica will not be required to quarantine on arrival. All travelers age 12 and older must show a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within three days before arrival. Travelers must also submit a travel authorization form. For the latest updates on requirements for travel to Jamaica, check here.

Americans are also allowed to travel to the Bahamas, but all visitors over the age of 2 must show results of a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test taken within five days of arrival, even if you’re vaccinated.

A PCR test is required for unvaccinated travelers 12 and older, even those ages 2 to 11, as the government announced on Dec. 23 that only RT-PCR tests would be accepted, not antigen. (Children under 2 are exempt from the testing rule.) Negative test results must be uploaded when applying for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa. For the latest updates on requirements for travel to the Bahamas, check here.

Featured photo by Dorgie Productions/Getty Images. 

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