New CDC warnings for several Caribbean destinations over COVID-19

Jan 8, 2022

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered its first weekly travel advisory updates of the new year, and it includes a strong warning to “avoid travel” to Aruba due to a “very high risk” of COVID-19.

The CDC also updating its warning levels on several other popular Caribbean destinations including the Bahamas and St. Martin.

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Aruba was added to Level 4, the CDC’s highest-risk category when determining COVID risk levels. Countries are moved to Level 4 when more than 500 positive cases per 100,000 residents are detected in the past 28 days.

“Because of the current situation in Aruba, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the CDC declared on its official website.

Aruba, one of the most popular winter getaways, is still open for travel and airlines are still flying there. It has its own entry requirements for travelers coming from nations deemed high-risk. The U.S. is currently labeled a high-risk country.

Related: Complete reopening guide to Aruba

“Anyone traveling to Aruba from a location classified as high-risk will need to complete the PCR testing requirement 2 days prior to departure to Aruba regardless of vaccination status and will not have the option to test upon arrival in Aruba,” states a notice on VisitAruba.com. Travelers must also complete an online Embarkation/Disembarkation card and purchase Aruba Visitors Insurance, according to the Aruba Tourism Authority.

Aruba isn’t the only Caribbean destination to have its COVID warning level increased. The CDC also placed The Bahamas and Sint Maarten at Level 3, indicating a “high level” of coronavirus transmission on those islands. It warns that unvaccinated travelers “should avoid nonessential travel” to both Sint Maarten and the Bahamas

Other Caribbean islands have revised their own travel entry requirements due to the continued spread of the omicron variant. This includes the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Barbados.

According to the USVI Department of Tourism, all domestic travelers, regardless of vaccination status, must show proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test taken within three days of travel. This abbreviates the previous testing window, which had been five days.

Puerto Rico has also cracked down on entry protocols. All domestic travelers to have a negative COVID-19 rapid or PCR test taken within 48 hours of their arrival, regardless of their vaccination status, according to Discover Puerto Rico. Unvaccinated travelers must now quarantine for seven days upon arrival, whether their test is negative or not.
Previously, unvaccinated travelers had no mandatory quarantine. You can find full details about travel requirements to Puerto Rico on the Discover Puerto Rico website.

Related: TPG reader story: What it was like to test positive on our way home from vacation

The Bahamas and Barbados have both revised entry regulations with regards to COVID tests. 

Barbados now allows travelers to either show proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid test taken within one day of arrival on the island, or proof of a negative PCR test taken within 3 days of arrival, per information on VisitBarbados.org. Unvaccinated visitors must quarantine at pre-approved accommodations for seven days, and take a PCR test on day five.

The Bahamas will now let vaccinated travelers show either a negative rapid antigen test or an RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. Unvaccinated travelers 12 years and older must continue to present a negative RT-PCR test within three days of arrival. Anyone presenting test results older than 72 hours will be denied entry to the islands.

A rapid antigen test now is required for all travelers staying in the Bahamas longer than 48 hours (two nights), regardless of vaccination status.

Featured Image by Nisangha for Getty Images

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