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How the Caribbean is opening up to tourism, and where you can go

The UK has travel corridors with 13 Caribbean countries – and five are letting us in without any major obstacles

We’d all love to lay out on a beach right now—and no one does beaches better than the Caribbean. But more than toes in the sand, what the Caribbean and its economies need right now are tourist dollars. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, 14 of the 15 most tourism-dependent nations in the world are in the Caribbean, with Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Bahamas in the top three spots. Many Caribbean islands reopening—some, like Barbados and Bermuda are even creating new work visas to draw in remote workers—while others are slower to welcome back travelers, if at all.

So where is it safe, or even possible, to travel? And what do you need to know before you hop on a plane? To help you sift through all the information out there, we broke down exactly what to expect if you’re heading to the Caribbean in the coming months, for every destination with a reopening plan.

Read on for what to you’ll need to do ahead of visiting the Caribbean this fall. And as you plan your visits, remember to keep checking in on local government and tourism board sites, as coronavirus updates come often. Keep an eye on the weather, as well, as hurricane season lasts through the end of November.

This article was last published on September 17, 2020. It has been updated with new information.

Antigua and Barbuda
Health form required? Yes, completed on your flight
Negative test results required? Yes, from a PCR test taken within seven days of departure
Quarantine required? No

This dual-island country officially reopened its borders and its international airport on Antigua on June 1. You’ll have to fill out an accommodation form before your visit, fill out a health questionnaire on the flight itself, and show negative COVID-19 test results from a test taken within seven days of your departure upon arrival. You may be subject to additional temperature checks, screening, and even COVID-19 testing throughout your stay, at the discretion of the local port authority.

You’ll have to wear a mask in all public places, and when interacting with others outside your family circle—but you won’t have to wear them at beaches or pools where social distancing is possible, Colin James, head of the country’s tourism board told the Telegraph. At beach bars, stools will be removed and tables will be at last six feet apart; most local restaurants outside of hotels are restricted to takeout. All hotels and villas are also being certified by the local government to ensure they’re following local health and cleaning guidelines. Most importantly, a curfew is in place from 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. each night until December 31. Check back on the tourism board’s extensive COVID-19 site for continuing updates.

Health form required? Yes, completed within 72 hours of departure
Negative test results required? Yes, from a test taken within 72 hours of departure
Quarantine required? No

Originally, when Aruba reopened to Americans in July, visitors had different testing requirements based on the level of COVID-19 risk in their home state. But as of October 29, all U.S. travelers can either take an approved, lab-certified test within 72 hours of departure (approved test types can be found here) or take a $75 COVID-19 test upon arrival (and then self-quarantine until you receive results). The government says it’ll try to get your results back in six to eight hours to minimize your time quarantined at your hotel or rental home.

No matter what state you’re coming from, you have to complete a health questionnaire, purchase Aruba-specific visitor insurance, and upload your pre-flight test results, if taken ahead of time, as part of a new embarkation and disembarkation (ED) card process. Once you’ve filled out that ED card and received approval to visit, you’re set to fly.

As for the experience on the ground, masks are not required, but are requested in situations where social distancing is difficult. Hotels have installed plexiglass barriers at front desks, and many are offering contactless check-in. Outdoor restaurants have been open since late May, restaurants with seating inside (as well as spas) opened June 1, and bars and nightclubs opened on June 10. The island has also instituted a Health & Happiness Code—essentially a certification that shows that a tour operator, water activities coordinator, car rental company, or spa is complying with suggested safety guidelines.

Islands of Aruba
Aruba reopened to American travelers in July, but travelers from certain states will face stricter entry requirements.
The Bahamas
Health form required? Yes, completed within 72 hours of departure
Negative test results required? Yes, from a test taken within seven days of departure
Quarantine required? No

The Bahamas has had a complicated reopening, changing course by closing and reopening to Americans over the past few months. Here’s how the reopening of the 700 islands stands now: All travelers must apply and be approved for a health visa to board their flight, which includes submitting proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days of arrival. The country has eliminated its previous quarantine requirement, and instead travelers will take a rapid antigen test on arrival. Those staying longer than five days will take another test on day four of their trip.

As for life on the ground, hotels, villas, and Airbnbs opened to guests on July 1, with enhanced cleaning in guest rooms and public spaces, and readily available hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes required by the health ministry across properties. Some hotels are limiting the number of guests in elevators. Masks are required when social distancing is not an option, as well as at the airport and when entering and exiting the beach. Speaking of, the beach is only open from 5 a.m. to noon each day, so have plans for how to fill your day that don’t involve lounging in the sand. Restaurants are offering outdoor dining, delivery, and take out—and most Bahamian islands are under a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily curfew. Find detailed, up-to-date announcements from the tourism board here.

Health form required? Yes, completed within 72 hours of departure
Negative test results required? Yes, from a test taken within 72 hours of departure
Quarantine required? Yes, for at least four days

To enter the island nation from a designated high-risk country like the U.S., you’ll need to take a coronavirus test within 72 hours of departure. You’ll also have to fill out an Embarkation/Disembarkation card confirming that you have not had any COVID-19 symptoms within 72 hours of departure. (You can find out more on the tourism board’s site.)

Note, even with a negative COVID-19 test, travelers from high risk countries (like the U.S.) will have to quarantine for at least four days at an approved hotel (listed on the FAQ page) or vacation rental, and will be tested again four or five days into their stay. After receiving your second negative result, you are permitted to move around Barbados freely. Note, you will not be able to access beaches while in quarantine and some amenities at approved hotels are limited before your second test, so contact your preferred accommodations for full details.

If you’re looking to stay for even longer, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has announced a proposed a 12-month visa that allows visitors to live in Barbados while they work remotely. “This will allow people from the United States, Europe, and Latin America to come and do their jobs digitally for a couple of months and then go back home, if they feel they can work better in a more relaxed atmosphere such as next to a beach,” she said at a press conference in early July. You can read more about the new visa here.

Health form required? Yes, completed within 48 hours of departure
Negative test results required? Yes, from a test taken within seven days of departure
Quarantine required? Yes, until you receive negative results from your COVID-19 test on arrival

Bermuda officially opened to visitors on July 1, provided they have completed Bermuda’s travel authorization form within 48 hours of departure and can show a negative COVID-19 test, taken preferably within 72 hours hours of departure (though technically you can take it up to seven days ahead of your flight). As part of that travel authorization form, you’ll have to pay $75, which covers a second COVID-19 rapid results test once you land at the airport—so you’ll have to take a test before you go and another one on the ground. You’ll then have to quarantine at your hotel or rental until you receive your results, which should take around 24 hours, according to the tourism board.

Once you get there, you’ll have to follow a fairly specific routine. Bermuda requires you pack a thermometer, so that you can take your temperature twice daily and report it to local authorities. You’ll also have to take additional COVID-19 tests on day four, day eight, and day 14 of your stay, depending on how long you’re on the island, all of which are covered by the $75 fee you paid to enter.

While Bermuda has the most extensive testing requirements, the country is also encouraging visitors to come—and stay a while. Like Barbados, the government has introduced a visa program that would allow travelers to work remotely on the island for up to one year. The visa costs around $260 and applies to both remote workers and college and graduate students who may not be on campus during the next school year as classes move online. The island has already begun accepting applications for the “Work from Bermuda” certificate.

Health form required? Yes, complete the digital immigration card and personal locator card within 48 hours of departure
Negative test results required? Yes, from a test taken within 72 hours of departure
Quarantine required? No

Starting November 7, travelers with state-issued IDs from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Florida will be able to enter Curaçao. You’ll need to complete two forms ahead of departure (both found on the same site) and show negative results from a test taken within 72 hours of departure to upload to that same site. If you follow the process above, you’ll be free to move about the colorful island’s capital, Willemstad, and its surroundings without quarantining. All other states (or residents of the four approved states who don’t have state-issued licenses or IDs) will have to wait until Curaçao expands its reopening.

Health form required? Yes, completed at least 24 hours ahead of departure
Negative test results required? Yes, from a test taken within 72 to 24 hours of departure
Quarantine required? Yes, for at least five days

Visitors to Dominica are split into four groups based on the country they are coming from, which impacts entry requirements. Based on daily new cases and case trends, the U.S. is in the high-risk category, which means that U.S. travelers will have to submit a health questionnaire and provide results from a COVID-19 test taken within 24 to 72 hours of arrival. Upon arrival, you’ll also undergo a secondary rapid test. If you receive negative results, you must then quarantine for at least five days at a government-approved hotel. You’ll get a third test on day five of your quarantine and if you’re negative again, you’re clear to explore. (The government has broken down test pricing and quarantine details here.) Once out of quarantine, know that boats and diving vessels will be limited to 70 percent capacity to promote social distancing, restaurants are open with tables spaced apart, and hotels will be sanitizing luggage on arrival.

Dominican Republic
Health form required? Yes, completed on your flight
Negative test results required? No
Quarantine required? No

The Dominican Republic officially reopened its borders on July 1, but tourism will be slow to return since many of the country’s 101 resorts only recently reopened in October. There is also a weekday curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. and a weekend curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. is in place in most provinces through November 11.

Restaurants and bars are open and regularly disinfecting high-touch spaces. Boating, horseback riding, sightseeing, zip lining are all on offer, though there are a number of safety and cleaning precautions in place as well. Beaches are also open. (The tourism board has a full list of what to expect on the ground.)

On board before arrival, travelers will fill out a health questionnaire along with their regular customs forms on board their flight, confirming that they haven’t had coronavirus symptoms in the last 72 hours and providing contact information for contact tracing. Travelers no longer need to provide COVID-19 test results—instead, temperature checks will be routine upon arrival and you may be subjected to a rapid coronavirus test at the airport if you have a temperature of 100.6 degrees or higher, and will have to quarantine until you receive the results.

Health form required? Yes, complete and print ahead of your flight
Negative test results required? Yes, from a test taken within seven days of departure
Quarantine required? Yes, for at least five days

Travelers from a high-risk country like the U.S. will have different entry requirements than others. (High risk countries are labeled as having more than 60 new cases in the past 14 days.) You’ll need to present a negative COVID-19 test result from within seven days of departure, and complete both a health screening form and a passenger locator form for contact tracing before arrival. Upon landing, you’ll undergo another free test at the airport—then, you’ll need to quarantine for five days in an approved accommodation. (Find the list of approved hotels and resorts here.) On day four, you can get tested again and you’ll be free to roam upon receipt of your negative results. You are also welcome to complete your stay at the approved resorts, without being tested a second time. Note, this means you must be able to show proof of a reservation of at least five days to visit Grenada.

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