With many Caribbean destinations beginning to reopen for business, here’s a quick summary of individual islands and their current plans for visitors.
The following information is current as of the original posting date of this article (July 3, 2020), with subsequent updates as noted and dated. It is subject to change at any time. Verification is advised.
It is also important to note that ALL of destinations listed impose a number of important restrictions on international visitors. These can include: the completion of a health declaration form; proof of a COVID-19 free test result prior to travel (the range of how far in advance of arrival varies per destination); temperature and/or onsite COVID-19 checks on arrival; compulsory wearing of face masks; accommodation limited to approved/certified hotels; curfews; the potential of quarantine (of varying duration) and more. As such, it is VITAL to check with the appropriate government via their official website or similar resource prior to finalizing any travel plans.
Also, openings of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other business have various physical distancing, certification, and other requirements in different jurisdictions. While they will do their best to make you welcome, do not expect “normal service” everywhere.
Anguilla: UPDATE: Anguilla began accepting applications for entry from international travellers on August 21, with actual travel commencing November 1. Hotels and resorts classified as Certified Visitor Accommodations will open at this time. The government is also introducing a fee schedule for visitors at approved properties (including villas), to offset “the steep costs of managing entry protocols and procedures”, according to the Anguilla Tourist Board. All fees are payable on approval of the travel application. For more information, visit ivisitanguilla.com. (Updated October 4)
Antigua and Barbuda: The international airport, V.C. Bird Airport, reopened June 4, and some international flights are already underway. Many hotels and resorts are open.
Aruba: Travel from Bonaire and Curacao were permitted as of June 15. Visitors from the rest of the Caribbean (with the exception of the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Europe and Canada will be allowed July 1, with visitors from the U.S. permitted on July 10 (at this point in time).
Bahamas: UPDATE: A phased reopening is underway, with Phase 3 being implemented on October 15. Several airlines announced resumption of flights in July. Many hotels, resorts, restaurants and other business have reopened with varying restrictions. Under Phase 3, most major hotels will reopen, along with beaches. Attractions, excursions and tours will follow on November 1. The previously announced 14-day Vacation-In-Place (at a hotel, club, private club, rented accommodation or private boat) requirement will be rescinded on November 1. All visitors must obtain a Bahamas Health Visa (available at www.travel.gov.bs). Cost of the visa depends on length of stay. (Updated October 4)
Barbados: UPDATE: The island opened for commercial flights on July 12, with many international flights already resumed. Entry requirements and on-island restrictions vary based on the country you are travelling from, with very low, low, medium and high risk designations assigned. As of October 1, new restrictions will be in place, with retesting for all travelers from medium and high-risk countries 2-3 days after arrival. Visitors will be limited to the grounds of their hotel, resort or villa, until they take their second COVID-19 test. (Updated October 4)
Bermuda: The island will reopen to international air travellers on July 1. Many resorts and businesses have reopened with compliance to Bermuda Ministry of Health guidelines.
Bonaire: UPDATE: Bonaire has reopened its borders for tourism from its key markets of the United States and Canada, although at present US visitors are restricted to those from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida. More states will be added in due course. For now, all US and Canadian visitors must fly in via Curaçao as the island is maintaining a ban on direct flights through mid-November at least. All travelers need to fill out a health declaration form for the island’s Public Health Department 48 hours before departure. The form can be found at https://www.bonairepublichealth.org/en. Most hotels and vacation rentals will reopen in early November. (Updated November 1)
British Virgin Islands: UPDATE: The BVI plans to reopen to international visitors on December 1. This coincides with the launch of BVILOVE, the country’s new tourism campaign, which highlights the British Virgin Islands’ attractions, history, people and way of life. The BVI is moving to Phase 3 of its Restricted Border & Controlled Re-entry Plan. Visitors will need a BVI Gateway Traveller Authorisation Certificate which will be obtained via an online portal, called BVI Gateway. The portal will be located at bvigateway.bviaa.com and is projected to be live on November 2. On arrival, visitors will be subject to a number of other conditions, which will be outlined on the portal. These include the mandatory installation of contract tracing software on their mobile phones. (Updated October 28)
Cayman Islands: UPDATE: As of October 1, the Cayman Islands commenced the phased reopening of its borders. Leisure travel is still not allowed during this phase, which focuses on repatriation of citizens, property owners, students and relatives of residents. Until borders are fully opened, only approved private charters and repatriation flights operated by Cayman Airways and British Airways are allowed to enter the Cayman Islands. (Updated October 18)
Curaçao: UPDATE: Borders opened on June 12 for visitors from Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba, and on June 15 for visitors from Aruba and St. Maarten. From July 1, a maximum of 10,000 international visitors were allowed to the island. At present visitors are restricted to those from low risk (mainly Caribbean) and medium risk (Austria, Canada, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Turks and Caicos, Uruguay, United Kingdom) countries. As of the first week of November, residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will also be allowed. Entry for other US residents will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. (Updated October 11)
Dominica: UPDATE: The reopening of the country’s borders occurred in two phases. Returning nationals were allowed on July 15. Under phase 2, international travellers are permitted as of August 7. Entry requirements for visitors vary according to country of origin, with low, medium and high-risk designations assigned (with exemptions within the CARICOM travel bubble). The local hotel association has worked closely with the government to develop and implement a comprehensive ‘COVID Clean Certification’ for hotels and resorts. (Updated September 7)
Dominican Republic: UPDATE: International airports reopened to commercial traffic on July 1. Many hotels and resorts are open. At the end of September, all tourists visiting a hotel will be granted, on a temporary basis, a travel assistance plan that will include coverage for emergencies, telemedicine, lodging for prolonged stays and costs for changing flights in the event of an infection. This insurance will be provided at no cost to the visitor until December 2020 and will be 100% paid for by the Dominican government. (Updated September 7)
Grenada: UPDATE: Commercial flights from the Caribbean were allowed as of July 15. New protocols for international travellers were released in September, based on point of origin countries being categorized into three risk zones: low, medium and high. The latest protocols can be found at https://covid19.gov.gd/travel.
The Grenada Tourism Authority has also announced a program entitled ‘Just For You’, designed for people “able and willing to travel” during these times. You can find this on their Facebook page @tourismgrenada. (Updated October 4)
Jamaica: International visitors were officially allowed on June 15.
Puerto Rico: The island reopens to tourists on July 15. Beaches and many hotels have already reopened.
Saba: UPDATE: As of July 1, travel to Saba is currently restricted to visitors (direct) from Curacao, Bonaire, and St. Eustatius. The possibility of leisure travel from medium and high-risk countries to Saba is not expected before the end of 2020. (Updated October 18)
St. Barth: Borders reopened on June 22. Beaches and many hotels and restaurants have reopened.
St. Kitts & Nevis: UPDATE: International travelers will be allowed as of October 31. Hotels, resorts and other tourism-related businesses that have undergone the government’s new Travel Approved training and received the Travel Approved Certification and Seal will reopen at this time. Updates on entry requirements and information on flight availability, etc. are available at https://www.stkittstourism.kn/travel-advisory-update. Meanwhile, beaches (during the day) and many restaurants and bars are presently open with physical distancing restrictions. (Updated October 4)
St. Lucia: UPDATE: The international airport reopened in July, as part of phase one of the island’s reopening plan. Some airlines already have scheduled flights running to the island. Hotels that have been government certified have been allowed to reopen. The island has also begun to open up more sectors of its tourism industry, including diving and snorkelling. Overall, St.Lucia has been lauded by the CDC for its measured approach to reopening. (Updated September 7)
St. Maarten/St. Martin: UPDATE: The situation here is complicated by the dual jurisdictions. Princess Juliana airport (on the Dutch side – Sint Maarten) reopened on July 1 for visitors from Europe and North America. Restaurants and bars (with limited seating) and many hotels, resorts and shops are open, with varying protocols in place. Note that Sint Maarten banned fights from the US in July, but that ban has since been lifted. As of this update, Saint Martin has reopened its borders and is allowing all visitors to cross the French/Dutch border. (Updated October 24)
St. Vincent & The Grenadines: UPDATE: Technically, St. Vincent never closed its borders. Instead they adopted a two-stage entry process, with phase one beginning on July 1. This has recently been updated, with visitors now classified according to country of origin. Categories are: CARICOM, low risk, medium risk (including Canada) and high risk (including the US). Restrictions, including length of quarantine (zero to five days), depend on the risk level. The full protocols are posted on the St. Vincent and The Grenadines Facebook page. (Updated October 11)
Sint Eustatius: International travel is not permitted at this time, with some exceptions allowed for travels from certain islands in the Dutch Caribbean,
Turks and Caicos: The islands reopened on July 22, with many international flights already resuming. Visitors are required to obtain pre-travel authorization via the TCI Assured portal. Persons without authorization will not be permitted to board a flight to the Turks and Caicos. TCI Assured is also the name for the government’s mandatory quality and safety assurance scheme for hotels, villas, restaurants, and transportation vehicles. To access the TCI Assured portal, or for more information, visit www.visittci.com. (Updated October 4)
U.S. Virgin Islands: UPDATE: The USVI reopened to visitors on June 1, however following a spike in cases, they had announced that borders would be closed for a month beginning August 19. They have since reopened. (Updated October 24)
Remember to read the rules for each country. Travel wise – know what to expect! And understand that these destinations are struggling with the same challenges we all face, so please show patience and RESPECT the places and people you visit.
Source: Caribbean Tourism Organization, Travel Weekly, Caribbean Journal, various government press releases, websites, and additional resources.