Everything you need to know about Puerto Rico reopening
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with current information. It was first published on July 13, 2020.
Puerto Rico’s COVID-19 reopening got off to a rocky start, when original July reopening plans had to be rolled back due to a spike in coronavirus cases. The U.S. island territory now has no nationality restrictions for entering visitors, but the tourism board has a strict list of rules and regulations designed to maintain safety for everyone.
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Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Puerto Rico.
Before traveling to Puerto Rico
All travelers entering this island must prepare to show proof of clean health as well as compliance with local wellness initiatives, according to Discover Puerto Rico:
- In order to exit the arrival airport, travelers must complete an online travel declaration form from the Puerto Rico Health Department. Visitors ideally will fill out the form before arriving, but can also do so at the kiosks set up in the airport.
- All visitors age 2 or older must also produce a negative molecular COVID-19 test result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel departure time. Testing sites on the mainland U.S. can be found here. It is highly recommended to get tested prior to arriving on the Island, given limited local resources. Travelers who do not have qualifying test results available at the time of arrival must enter mandatory quarantine for 14 days, or until satisfactory test results have been approved by local health officials.
- Travelers will automatically receive an airport exit confirmation number and QR code, which when uploading their molecular test results to the Puerto Rico Health Department’s online portal.
- If you cannot get tested before traveling to Puerto Rico, you will be subject to on-site testing and 14 days of mandatory quarantine while awaiting your results. If you test positive, you will be placed in isolation and required to get medical treatment at your own expense.
- Travelers who refuse to take a COVID-19 test will be required to self-quarantine on the island for 14 days before proceeding elsewhere.
- Travelers who display symptoms on arrival will must undergo a rapid COVID-19 test and required to self-quarantine, even if the result is negative. The quarantine will be lifted once a negative molecular COVID-19 test result is presented to the health department. If the rapid test comes out positive, the visitor will be required to take a second molecular test, and seek medical treatment in isolation at their own expense.
- The Puerto Rico National Guard is assisting with enhanced health screenings at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), where all incoming passengers must currently enter. All entering travelers will be pre-screened for fever or elevated temperatures via thermographic cameras, and enhanced protocols will take place at baggage claim before exiting the airport.
The San Juan International Airport has implemented the following protocols for preventing COVID-19:
- All workers and passengers must wear face coverings within the airport
- Only passengers are allowed to enter the terminals
- All screens throughout the airport emphasize COVID-19 prevention guidelines
- Approximately 100 hand sanitizer stations have been installed
- A fog-spray disinfectant allows local workers to sanitize the airport more thoroughly in less time
- A double and high-efficiency air conditioning filter system in compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Touchless hand dryers have been installed in bathrooms
- Bathroom cleanings are performed every 30 to 60 minutes, depending on usage
- Installation of acrylic barriers at airline check-in counters
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning boarding pass printing and registration kiosks, in addition to promoting online registration to minimize contact
What to expect in Puerto Rico
Local Puerto Rican government officials are enforcing many of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) guidelines on COVID-related travel safety, including social distancing requirements, mandatory face coverings in public areas, and a variety of capacity and cleanliness mandates for businesses.
As of Sept. 12, public beaches and natural reserves have reopened for leisure, provided that visitors adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear face masks when not in the water. However, competitive sports, including professional meets, are still banned for the time being.
Supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations are open, with supermarket delivery services available through midnight. Restaurants and museums are operating at 50 percent capacity, while pools at hotels and other establishments, theaters, casinos and gyms are open at 25 percent capacity. Hair salons, barber shops and individual spas are open via appointment, with the exception of saunas. Bars, cafes, and discos remain closed.
Marinas are open, and recreational boating is permitted with a 15-foot distance between each vessel. Docking at beaches and natural reserves is still off-limits, and attractions and tours remain closed.
Group activities are still off-limits for both indoor and outdoor gatherings. The island still implements a curfew from 10 p.m. through 5 a.m., except for emergencies. The curfew is in place through Oct. 16, with the possibility of an extension. Taxis are accessible outside of curfew hours, although airport service taxis are allowed to operate during curfew hours. The Puerto Rico Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA) and Tren Urbano subway system are not in current operation.
How to get there
Flights to Puerto Rico are at an all-time low right now, with nonstop flights originating from Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Newark and more U.S. mainland cities from $64 round trip through the 2020 holidays and into spring 2021.
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to San Juan (SJU) for $64 round trip nonstop on Spirit:
Philadelphia (PHL) to San Juan (SJU) for $65 round trip nonstop on Frontier:
Newark (EWR) to San Juan (SJU) for $66 round trip nonstop on United Airlines in basic economy:
Charlotte (CLT) to San Juan (SJU) for $102 round trip on Spirit:
Hotels are also plentiful, with more than 580 hotels available throughout the island as early as late October 2020.
The Intercontinental San Juan is available for $189 per night, or 32,500 IHG points.
The Fairmont El San Juan Hotel is $199 per night, with a 10 percent discount for Accor Live Limitless loyalty program members.
Marriott has 12 hotels on the island, from the Four Points by Sheraton Caguas Real Hotel & Casino from 15,000 Bonvoy points or $121 per night, up to the Category 8 St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico, from 70,000 Bonvoy points or $469 per night.
Hilton offers seven hotels for Hilton Honors loyalty program members to choose from, including the Condado Plaza Hilton from 42,000 Hilton Honors points or $160 per night.
Additional reporting by Ariana Arghandewal.
Featured photo by Maremagnum/Getty Images.
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