UPDATE: Jamaica is open for tourists again, but only if you follow all of these rules
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on June 15, 2020, and was updated with new information on 7/21/20.
As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
After three months of preventative measures designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Jamaica reopened for tourism on June 15. But travelers hoping to escape social distancing and face masks will not find the easy vacation they’re looking for — the country has published a 119-page guide for local hospitality procedures to prove it.
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Arriving in Jamaica
Arriving travelers must follow an “extensive” set of health screening procedures, beginning with a mandatory pre-travel health authorization registration with a customs and immigration form between two to five days before their planned arrival date, and the government will issue a travel approval document based on those details. And as of July 15, travelers arriving after that date from high-risk regions including Arizona, Texas, Florida and New York must also include a negative COVID-19 test dated within 10 days of departure time in order to have their applications considered.
Travelers may be denied permission to visit depending on their risk for COVID-19 transmission. Short-term business travelers are exempt from the requirements above, but must undergo rapid-result nasal swab testing upon arrival instead, and must remain quarantined until results are received.
Upon submission, your application will be “instantly” reviewed and your level of risk for COVID-19 transmission will be assessed based on your submitted details, according to the Visit Jamaica registration page.
Related: Bermuda opening to Americans July 1
Travelers above a certain risk threshold will be asked to avoid traveling to Jamaica at this time, while travelers under the threshold will be issued a travel approval document. Passengers must print their approval forms beforehand to show to an agent upon flight check-in or boarding. Airlines will not allow any travelers to board flights into Jamaica without proof of prior authorization.
All incoming travelers should expect thermal temperature checks, health screenings and an interview with a health official upon arrival, and anyone who shows COVID-19 symptoms or feels ill upon arrival will be quarantined. The new June 15 policy supersedes previous measures, which required mandatory quarantine upon arrival into the country.
Upon arrival and after passing all health screenings, healthy tourists must remain within the “COVID-19 resiliency corridor” spanning the northern coastline between Negril and Portland along the main road, according to Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Only hotels or cottages licensed by the Tourist Board Act are permitted to host guests during June 15 to 30.
Non-Jamaican tourists who plan to travel outside of the approved tourist zone must be tested for COVID-19, and will be required to quarantine in their hotel room or intended address until test results come back. Tourists who test positive must remain in quarantine for the duration of their illness, either in their current place of shelter or at a government-designated facility.
How to get there
The cheapest flights begin at $300 round trip on Spirit departing from Newark (EWR) with a stopover in Fort Lauderdale (FLL), while the lowest-priced fares on a major U.S. carrier also depart Newark, beginning from $406 round trip on United with a stopover in Houston (IAH).
Related: Visiting Jamaica with family
American Airlines is restarting some flights as soon as today. It will soon be flying from both Charlotte (CLT) and Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) to Montego Bay. AA begins flying from Miami on July 2 to Kingston for as low as $310 roundtrip in main cabin. Or you can fly in business class for another $264. You can fly from New York JFK via MIA for $461 in the main cabin.
United Airlines has direct flights from Newark to Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay (MBJ) which is within the open corridor for 90,000 miles and $140 in taxes and fees. You could fly in coach for 35,000 United miles and $140 in taxes and fees. That same trip would be $469 in cash in main cabin (non-basic).
You could fly via Delta Air Lines to Kingston in main cabin for $527 or $478 in basic economy. The same flight would be 28,000 miles and $161 in taxes.
Southwest Airlines is expected to resume service to Montego Bay from Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) and Orlando International Airport (MCO) on July 1.
Where to Stay
Hilton’s Montego Bay all-inclusive resort, the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, as well as Hyatt’s all-inclusive properties Zilara Rose Hall and Hyatt Ziva, all reopen July 1, with rates beginning around $300/night at each destination.
Related: Review of the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall
For example, If you wanted to stay at Hyatt’s Rose Hall all-inclusive it would be $295/night or 25,000 World of Hyatt points/night.
Related: Reopening guide: country-by-country
Related: Reopening guide to the Caribbean
Hotels.com shows more than 1,200 hotels and guest properties on the island of Jamaica with availability during the first week of reopening, with more than 100 properties open in capital city Kingston alone. However, note that Kingston does not fall within the COVID-19 resiliency corridor designated by the government, so travelers visiting the capital city of Jamaica will have to quarantine in place until their coronavirus tests come back negative.
Most of the properties listed are guesthouses and similar housing, although major chain properties include Marriott hotels AC Hotel Kingston from $167/night or the Courtyard by Marriott Kingston from $205 per night. Notably, the Hyatt’s Kingston-based Trident Hotel is not yet booking guests.
Additional reporting by Clint Henderson.
Featured photo by David Neil Madden.
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