Puerto Rico to require testing and/or vaccination for lodging

Aug 5, 2021

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Breaking news late Thursday, Aug. 5, as Puerto Rico’s governor announces he is going to require either a PCR test or proof of vaccination at all visitor lodging, including hotels, resorts and Airbnbs. The news first coming via Twitter with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi holding a press conference shortly afterward.

This news means if you are headed for Puerto Rico, you will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

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Puerto Rico Gov. Pierluisi saying in light of a surge of new coronavirus cases, beginning Aug. 16, all hotel and Airbnb guests and workers will be required to show proof of full vaccination or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. According to the Associated Press, Pierluisi said, “We cannot lower our guard. There are vaccines for everyone. Vaccinations are the solution.”

All government contractors and health care facility workers will also be required to get vaccinated or submit to weekly tests.

The governor says those found in violation of the new rules will face fees and even prison, “Those that do not follow the order are subject to to 6 months in jail or fines not to exceed $5000, or both penalties, at the discretion of the courts.”

According to AP:

“The order goes into effect Aug. 16; those who refuse to get inoculated will be required to submit a weekly negative COVID-19 test.”

Puerto Rico has been dealing with a dramatic upswing in cases dominated by the new easily spread delta variant. Cases have surged dramatically in the past month.

I was in Puerto Rico in May testing out its new policy that you don’t need a negative test if you are fully vaccinated. I missed it by a few days, but Puerto Rico allows you to come in without a test if you are fully vaccinated. The governor says the new rules for hotels are similar to entry requirements already in place: “For the unvaccinated, if your stay is longer than one week, weekly testing is required.”

We are assuming the same will be true of lodging. As long as you can prove you are fully vaccinated, you won’t need to show proof of a negative test and can just show your CDC card or another form of proof. This is similar to rules in Hawaii where hotels and other vacation rentals require you to show your proof of vaccination, negative test results or Hawaii Safe Travels forms to check in.

Related: Everything you need to know about visiting Puerto Rico during COVID-19

If you are not vaccinated, you’ll still need to show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival in Puerto Rico. It must come from a lab that Puerto Rico has approved, though it appears the territory will take most PCR tests. Puerto Rico has a searchable map to find a testing facility in the U.S. at this website: TravelsafePR.com.

Related: Where can you go right now? A country-by-country guide to reopening

Puerto Rico tourism officials told TPG that “children ages 2-12 who are unable to be vaccinated are subject to the weekly negative COVID test rule, just as unvaccinated adults are.”

Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, told me:

“This change should have minimal effects on those visiting the Island, given that a negative test or proof of vaccine are already requirements to enter. If anything, the new Executive Order, should give travelers added peace of mind, knowing that all hotel staff will be vaccinated too. Discover Puerto Rico continues to welcome conscientious travelers to visit the Island and safely enjoy our diverse offerings and naturally socially distant activities. From kayaking in Mosquito Bay (the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay), hiking in El Yunque, and the ever-classic beach day on one of our 300 beaches, Puerto Rico also has the benefits of no passport requirements for US travelers, no roaming charges, an American medical system, and comfortable access to the same stores and pharmacies American travelers are familiar with. We encourage all travelers to respect the guidelines set by the Puerto Rico Department of Health, in order to keep other visitors and local residents safe and secure, and continue building confidence in travelers and various stakeholders along the way.”

Additional reporting by Tom Grahsler.

Featured photo from the Coronado Ocean Club in San Juan, Puerto Rico May 2021 by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

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