Everything you need to know about Puerto Rico reopening

Jul 18, 2020

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Update: Following a spike in COVID-19 cases, Puerto Rico officials have rolled back reopening plans.

Puerto Rico officially reopened to all international travelers on July 15, 2020. While there are currently no restrictions on who can enter Puerto Rico, the tourism board has announced a series of rules and regulations to keep everyone safe. Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Puerto Rico:

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Old San Juan City Walls in Puerto Rico. (Photo by Maremagnum/Getty Images)
Old San Juan City Walls in Puerto Rico. (Photo by Maremagnum/Getty Images)

What to expect at the airport

Discover Puerto Rico has put together a handy guide for what to expect if you travel to the island when it reopens. Upon arrival, travelers will be subject to health screenings.

Asymptomatic travelers

Travelers must produce a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of arrival along with a travel declaration and Airport Exit Confirmation QR Code.

Asymptomatic travelers who don’t have a test result

While you must take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, your results may not be ready by then. If you arrive with your Travel Declaration Form and proof that you submitted to a test within the required time frame, you will be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine. The quarantine will be lifted if your test results are digitally provided to the Puerto Rico Health Department.

Travelers without a COVID test

If you’re not able to get tested before traveling to Puerto Rico, you will be subject to on-site testing and 14 days of quarantine while awaiting your results. Keep in mind that 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 test

Those who refuse to take a COVID-19 test will be required to self-quarantine on the island for 14 days.

Symptomatic traveler

Travelers who display symptoms on arrival will have to undergo a rapid COVID-19 test and required to self-quarantine, even if the result is negative. This 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, you’ll be required to take a molecular test and isolate and seek medical treatment at your own expense.

What to expect on arrival

After a spike in cases of coronavirus on the island, the governor has reimposed many restrictions as of July 17.

“We’ve reached a level where we need to take more restrictive measures,” said Gov.  Wanda Vázquez.

Transportation providers will be required to disinfect their vehicles, wear masks, put on gloves while handling luggage and provide their passengers with hand sanitizer. Ride-share passengers will be required to wear masks and prohibited from sitting in the front seat.

Hotels in Puerto Rico will adopt many of the policies being implemented in places like The Bahamas and French Polynesia. All guests will have to undergo temperature checks and have their luggage disinfected upon arrival. Wearing masks in public areas as well as restaurants and shopping areas will be mandatory and social distancing rules will apply.

Hotels will be required to regularly clean and sanitize public spaces and pools will be closed. Fitness centers and spas, will once again close as part of the rollbacks.

If you’re thinking of bypassing some of these restrictions by booking an Airbnb, keep in mind that many of the same rules will apply.

Unfortunately, one of the new changes is that beaches will have limited hours from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will only be open for individual exercise. Theaters, marinas, casinos and attractions have all been closed. There are also no tours available on the island.

Keep in mind if you’re planning a trip to other parts of Puerto Rico that nearby islands of Vieques and Culebra are now closed to tourists. Old San Juan is also off limits to nonresidents from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The town of Vega Baja has canceled all recreational and sporting activities through 2020, so don’t count on attending the downhill skateboarding competition.

Restaurants are currently open but bars have been closed. The indoor dining capacity increased from 25% to 50% on June 16 and has been stopped from increasing any more for the time being. Alcohol cannot be sold after 7 p.m.

Temperature checks will be enforced and anyone with a temperature over 100.3 will be denied entry. As is now the norm in the age of COVID-19, buffets will not reopen and restaurant staff will serve meals wearing gloves and masks.

Shopping malls will be open but accessible via appointment only. Cleaning and social distancing rules will apply.

Related: Your points and miles guide to Puerto Rico

How to get there

Airfare to Puerto Rico can be quite affordable, depending on your travel dates and departure city. A Google Flights search turned up $137 round-trip fares between Miami (MIA) and San Juan (SJU) in July.

In late July, Spirit Airways offers round-trip fares between Newark (EWR) and SJU for as low as $53 round-trip. Flights from Dallas (DFW) come in at just $92 while West Coast departures start at $285.

At these rates, redeeming miles through a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card works out better than using airline miles. For example, American Airlines requires 30,000 miles round-trip for a flight to Puerto Rico. Delta’s awards are pricing out at over 50,000 miles in July. Instead, you can book one of the above-mentioned cash fares and redeem just 5,300 – 28,500 Venture miles. Granted, some of us would prefer the cargo hold over flying Spirit Airlines, but some fares are too good to pass up.

Related: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

Bottom line

Puerto Rico’s official reopening in July coincides with popular destinations like The Bahamas and French Polynesia, which also chose that month to welcome tourists. People are getting restless in quarantine and tourism organizations are taking steps to not only attract these travelers to their destinations but to make them feel safe doing so. It may take a little longer for Puerto Rico to be fully accessible to tourists after the latest rollbacks but there are still great things to enjoy if you’re looking for a quiet getaway. Hopefully, the end result is positive and leads the way for more destinations to follow suit.

Featured photo by Maremagnum/Getty Images.

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