TORONTO — Though Sandals Resorts International didn’t invent the all-inclusive concept with its first resort in Jamaica back in 1981, it is largely credited with perfecting it. Since the debut of ...
TORONTO — As the world begins to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more destinations are welcoming back visitors.
Airlines, hotels, resorts and ground handlers have invested heavily in health and safety protocols and are eager to welcome travellers back.
That said, the federal government’s advisory warning Canadians against non-essential travel to destinations outside of Canada is still in place. That’s an issue for getting travel insurance.
Also, under current federal regulations it is mandatory that all Canadians returning to Canada self-isolate under quarantine for 14 days.
Here are all the latest reopening lists, updated as new information comes in, for when your clients are ready to travel…
LATEST UPDATES: Sept. 9 – The Bahamas; Sept. 1 – Belize;Aug. 28 – Hawaii; Aug. 27 – Dominican Republic; Aug. 24 – Ecuador; Aug. 18 – Anguilla; Aug. 17 – USVI; Aug. 12 – Costa Rica, St. Kitts & Nevis; Aug. 10 – Belize; Aug. 6 – Cuba; Aug. 4 – D.R.
Updated Aug. 18:
Travellers can apply to visit the island of Anguilla, which is currently COVID-19 free, as of Aug. 21. The pre-registration process is available online at the Anguilla Tourist Board’s website. Application requirements include the visitor’s home address and proposed travel dates, the submission of a negative PCR test (taken within 3-5 days prior to arrival), and a health insurance policy that will cover any medical expenses incurred in relation to COVID-19 treatment. Once the application is approved, an electronic certificate authorizing travel to Anguilla will be issued. All passengers will be given a PCR test on arrival. If staying 10 days or longer, a second test will administered on day 10 of their visit. Once a negative result is returned following the second test, guests are then free to explore the island. In the event of a positive test, guests will be required to isolate at a government-approved location. Visitors from low-risk countries will be given preference, while those coming from high-risk countries will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. For more details see https://ivisitanguilla.com/.
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
Updated July 6:
Antigua & Barbuda has updated its entry requirements for travellers to include a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result within seven days of their flight, which comes into effect on July 9 at 11:59 p.m. AST. This also applies to transiting passengers. All arriving passengers must wear a face mask on disembarkation and in all public areas, as well as complete a Health Declaration Form. They’ll also be subjected to screening and temperature checks by Port Health Authorities upon arrival.
All arriving passengers will be monitored for COVID-19 for up to 14 days, and may be required to undergo testing on arrival or at their hotel or place of lodging. Arriving passengers with symptoms of COVID-19 may be isolated as determined by health authorities.
Antigua reopened its airport in early June, with commercial flights resuming on June 4. For more details see https://visitantiguabarbuda.com/travel-advisory/.
Aruba has officially reopened its borders and is once again welcoming inbound travellers in a phased-in approach. Starting June 15 Aruba opened its doors to visitors from Bonaire and Curaçao. Visitors from Canada, Europe and the rest of the Caribbean (with the exception of the D.R. and Haiti), will be welcomed back on July 1. Visitors from the U.S. are welcome back starting July 10. Travellers will be required to follow a new embarkation and disembarkation process to enter the country. In addition to social distancing, Aruba is placing temporary capacity limits on some of the more popular tourist destinations to decrease the flow of visitors at peak times in more heavily trafficked areas, without limiting overall access. Plus, a new safety and hygiene program in partnership with key private sector stakeholders has been developed and launched. The ‘Aruba Health & Happiness Code’, which outlines stringent cleaning and hygiene standards, is mandatory for all tourism-related businesses throughout the country. This protocol will ensure tourism businesses adhere to the strict guidelines for health, sanitation, and social distancing protocols. Each business will go through a checklist of new rules and regulations on how to operate in a COVID-19 world. Upon completion, businesses will be inspected by the Department of Public Health and receive a Code Gold Certification once approved. For more details see Aruba.com.
Updated Sept. 9:
The Bahamas will enter Phase 3 of its Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan on Oct. 15. In Phase 3 beaches and major hotels will reopen on all islands. Phase 3 will also see the reopening of attractions, excursions and tours on Nov. 1. As part of Phase 3, all hotel guests must also abide by a 14-day Vacation-In-Place (VIP) Experience, which will allow them to access all amenities including hotel spas, gyms, bars and more.
In July, The Bahamas announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all foreign visitors upon entry as a way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Since Sept. 1, new entry requirements have been put in place including:
Canadians will be the first visitors to be welcomed back to Barbados when the island resumes commercial flights on July 12. Twice-weekly Air Canada service from Toronto Pearson to Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) will resume on July 12. Intra-regional flights on Caribbean Airlines are expected to resume in mid-July.
At the airport, public health protocols are in place including face masks en route to Barbados, physical distancing of three feet as well as temperature checks. Within 72 hours prior to departure for Barbados, all travellers from high-risk countries are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited laboratory (ISO, CAP, UKAS or equivalent). High-risk countries are defined as those with more than 10,000 new cases in the prior seven days and community transmission. Travellers from low-risk countries will have up to one week prior to departure for Barbados to take their tests. These countries are defined as those with less than 100 new cases in the prior seven days and not in the Community Transmission category.
There will be a new online Embarkation/Disembarkation card (ED card) with personal health questions relating to COVID-19 symptoms, which travellers will be required to complete. Once all required steps are completed and supporting documents uploaded, travellers will receive a bar code via email. On arrival in Barbados, travellers will be required to present evidence of a negative result of a PCR COVID-19 test and bar code to clear immigration. Travellers without a documented negative PCR test result from an accredited or recognized laboratory will be required to take a test upon arrival, and will be quarantined at their expense, pending the results. The anticipated wait period for the test results is 48 hours. If travellers fail the test they will be placed in isolation where they will receive care from the Ministry of Health and Wellness. For more information go to https://gisbarbados.gov.bb/covid-19/.
UPDATED SEPT. 1: Belize’s Philip Goldson International Airport, which was set to reopen in August, has slated Oct. 1, 2020 as its new reopening date. This will kick off Belize’s third phase of its five-phase reopening strategy, allowing for a limited reopening of international leisure travel with approved hotels only.
Prior to arrival, all passengers must download the Belize Health App and complete the required information. They must also take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of travel; those who provide certification of a negative test result will be allowed immediate entry. Passengers who do not provide a negative test result within 72 hours of travel must test upon arrival, at their expense. A negative test result will allow entry, those who test positive at the airport will be placed in mandatory quarantine for a minimum 14 days at their own expense. For a complete list of health and safety protocols go to https://belizetourismboard.org/belize-covid-19-update-for-travellers/.
After reopening to tourists on July 1, the island of Bermuda has unveiled an updated list of travel policies and procedures as part of its ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Most notably, in addition to acquiring a negative COVID-19 test result prior to departure, all visitors must now also take a COVID-19 test on days 4, 8 and 14 of their visit at easily accessible pop-up testing centres around the island. No wait time is required for results; visitors will be notified of their results. Appointments are being accepted.
For a full list of entry requirements go to https://www.gotobermuda.com/bta/press-release/bermuda-tourism-authority-update.
Costa Rica reopened its borders on Aug. 1 to visitors from Canada as well as the following countries: Germany; Austria; Belgium; Denmark; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain/ Estonia; Finland; France; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Italy; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Norway; the Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; United Kingdom; Czech Republic; Sweden; and Switzerland. Visitors must have remained in one of the above-mentioned countries for a minimum 14 consecutive days prior to travel to Costa Rica.
Travellers must show proof of a travel insurance policy that includes guaranteed coverage of medical expenses in the event of becoming ill with COVID-19 while in Costa Rica, for a minimum US$50,000. Travel insurance policies must also include a minimum coverage of $2,000 for extended lodging expenses due to the virus. For Canadians, the insurance requirement to enter Costa Rica can be met through international travel insurance providers, as well as two local options: National Insurance Company and Sagicor.
Travellers must also obtain a COVID-19 negative test. The test’s sample must be taken within 48 hours prior to the travelling date to Costa Rica. Only those tests provided by laboratories authorized by the health authorities are accepted. The only test that is accepted is the real-time polymerase chain reaction test (PCR-RT) for COVID-19. Rapid test results, serological tests or immunity tests will not be accepted. Results must be in English or Spanish. The test is required for all travellers older than 12 years old.
Finally, travellers must complete the online Health Pass form available at https://salud.go.cr/.
Updated Aug. 6:
Cuba reopened its borders on July 1, reopening hotels in the Cayos – Cayo Santa María, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Coco, Cayo Cruz and Cayo Largo del Sur – to international tourists only. This means that local Cubans (with the exception of hotel workers) are not permitted to enter the Cayos, and international tourists (when they’re finally able to fly to Cuba) will not be permitted to leave the Cayos during their stay.
Both Transat and Air Canada will resume flights from Canada to Cayo Coco in September, while Hola Sun will offer flights with OWG starting in November. Upon arrival, all visitors will be required to take a free PCR COVID-19 test upon arrival at the airport as well as undergo temperature checks and wear a mask at the airport and during their transfers. Visitors will await their results, which will take approximately 24 hours, at their designated hotel; if positive, they will be transferred to a small hospital in the area where they will receive treatment.
Mandatory pre-testing will not be required.
Curaçao reopened its borders on July 1 to a select number of international destinations including Canada, Belgium, China, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. During the month of July, a maximum of 10,000 passengers will be welcomed in an effort to minimize pressure on the local health system. This limitation will be re-evaluated for the upcoming months.
Visitors from permitted countries must do the following:
All travellers to Curaçao must also state that they have not travelled to a high-risk country or have been in contact with a person who tested positively for COVID-19 within 14 days prior to arrival. If this is the case they will be placed in mandatory quarantine at their own expense. All visitors must also be adequately insured for medical care and are responsible for any additional costs if they are quarantined or become ill during their stay.
Cruise passengers are currently not permitted to enter the country.
All travellers, including non-nationals, will be permitted to travel to Dominica beginning Aug. 7 as the island begins phase 2 of its reopening plan. Pre-arrival protocols include submitting a health questionnaire online at least 24 hours prior to arrival, showing notification of clearance to travel, and submitting a negative PCR COVID-19 test result recorded within 24-72 hours prior to arrival.
Upon disembarkation, travellers must undergo a health assessment to include a temperature check, provide confirmation of the health questionnaire and negative PCR test results, and undergo rapid test screening (children under five years old are exempt). Travellers who report a high temperature, high risk alert from their questionnaire or positive rapid test will be given a PCR test and be transported to mandatory quarantine at a government-approved facility or hotel at their expense to await results. If the test result is positive, the traveller may be quarantined until released by an authorized health professional.
Updated Aug. 26:
The D.R. is the latest Caribbean destination to require from visitors a negative COVID-19 test result prior to arrival. All passengers who wish to enter the country must show proof of a negative PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, administered within the last five days. If no proof of testing is available, visitors will undergo a quick test administered by government personnel, upon arrival at no additional cost. Children five years old and younger, as well as crew members, are exempt. In addition, visitors will need to complete a health evaluation upon arrival; those who present symptoms or whose test results are possible will be isolated at authorized locations.
The Dominican Republic Tourism Board also announced on Aug. 26 its new Plan for the Responsible Recovery of Tourism, which includes rapid testing starting at the end of September. Tests will be performed on randomly selected travellers upon arrival. Once this measure is in place, the negative COVID-19 test requirement prior to arrival will be eliminated.
The plan also includes temporary insurance coverage for all tourists visiting a hotel. It will be available until December 2020 and include coverage for emergencies, telemedicine, lodging for prolonged stays and costs for changing flights in the event of an infection.
For more information on the Dominican Republic’s entry requirements and health & safety protocols, click here.
Updated July 15:
Initially scheduled to reopen July 1, Grenada has remained closed following a June 28 address from Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who called for a more cautious approach to reopening the country’s borders. Now Grenada will reopen to international travellers on Aug. 1. The reopening date for regional visitors is July 15. Protocols include a mandatory certified copy of a negative PCR test dated no more than 7 days prior to departure. All passengers must also undergo a rapid test on arrival at the airport. If the rapid test is positive, the traveller will then be tested using swab/PCR and placed in quarantine at an approved accommodation at their expense, for 2 – 4 days, pending the PCR result. If that subsequent test is positive they will remain in quarantine for up to 14 days, or until they have tested negative on PCR. All travellers must also complete, sign and submit a Health Declaration Form, and download and register on Grenada’s contact tracing app. Both can be found at covid19.gov.gd.
Jamaica reopened its borders to international travellers on June 15 with new health and safety protocols in place. All visitors will be screened via thermal temperature checks and symptom observation; those with elevated temperatures will be subject to additional screening and testing, if needed. Any visitor who exhibits symptoms or is ill will be subject to quarantine. Phase 1 of the reopening is set for June 15-30, 2020, during which time a COVID-19 Resilient Corridor, which includes the coastline from Negril to Port Antonio, has been introduced. Only businesses within the corridor that have been trained and cleared for opening are permitted to open to tourists during Phase 1. All ground transportation for tourists must be arranged by a business that has been cleared to open. For a full list of safety protocols for hotels, cruise ships, attractions, beaches and transportation, click here.
Puerto Rico will be ready to welcome back travellers on July 15 as part of its third phase of economic reopening. Hotels throughout the destinations have remained open throughout to island residents. Starting July 15, all commercial spaces such as pools, bars, restaurants and shops within hotels will operate at 50% capacity in order to promote social distancing. Tourist attractions and popular sites are also open during this phase, while tour operators and businesses that rent equipment used for tourist activities are also authorized to resume operations.
The island’s main airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, is using advanced technology to automatically gauge incoming travellers’ temperature and has staff on site to administer a quick health check-up to arriving passengers.
The government of Puerto Rico is working on exception to the mandatory 14-day quarantine that remains in effect, for passengers arriving on or after July 15 who provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Further details will be coming in upcoming days.
ST. KITTS & NEVIS
St. Kitts & Nevis will be reopening its borders to international visitors in October with the resumption of air and sea commercial traffic.
According to the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, all incoming passengers must provide a negative RT-PCR test result to the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, at email@example.com, 72 hours prior to arrival. All passengers must also quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days; on the 14th day, they must then take another RT-PCR test. Once a negative test result is achieved, they will be released from quarantine.
Updated July 3:
Pre-travel testing for COVID-19 is now mandatory for all travellers heading to Saint Lucia, effective July 9. Travellers are required to obtain a negative PCR test within seven days of travel unless arriving from designated ‘Travel Bubble’ countries in the Caribbean. Those with proof of a negative PCR test may be exempt from on-island testing and advance through to their COVID-19 certified hotel.
All arriving passengers will be screened, including temperature checks, at the airport. Those with symptoms will be isolated and tested and must remain in quarantine at their hotel or Government Operated Quarantine Facility until test results are obtained. If positive, they will be transferred to a treatment facility until they receive two negative test results.
Anyone arriving without proof of a negative PCR test within seven days will be subject to immediate isolation and testing with possible quarantine or treatment in the event they test positive, at the traveller’s expense.
During Phase One, visitors can stay only at hotels that are COVID-19 certified. Phase Two will commence on Aug. 1. For more see https://www.stlucia.org/en/covid-19/.
Updated July 15:
The Dutch Caribbean destination of St. Maarten has pushed back its reopening date for U.S. travellers from July 15 to Aug. 1. As for Canadian travellers, St. Maarten’s Minister of Tourism Ludmila de Weever says Canada is in St. Maarten’s lower-risk bracket, “and it’s really about when [Canadians] are ready to fly. We’re ready to accept them.” The destination reopened to select markets from Europe and the Caribbean on July 1. Anyone coming to St. Maarten must upload the results of their negative PCR test (taken within 72 hours of arrival) and complete a health questionnaire. St. Maarten’s Health Declaration Platform, with all these details and more, is at stmaartenentry.com. Another helpful site is stmaartenupdates.com.
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has announced new entry requirements for travellers just in time for Air Canada Rouge flights starting in July. A list of requirements fort phase 1 1ravellers, from July 1-30, 2020, can be found here. In phase 2, which begins on Aug. 1, 2020 and based on the data gained during phase 1 and the current epidemiology of the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers arriving will be subjected to PCR COVID-19 testing, depending on their country of origin. For more details go to http://health.gov.vc/health/index.php/c and https://www.facebook.com/SVGHEALTH/.
TURKS & CAICOS
Turks and Caicos plans to reopen its borders and begin welcoming visitors starting July 22. The destination’s airline partners have confirmed flight service will resume from within the U.S., Canada, and Europe as soon as the destination is ready. Private jet terminals will open on July 22 as well in conjunction with the reopening of Providenciales International Airport. The Grand Turk Cruise Center will remain closed until Aug. 31. The Islands’ hotels and resorts, private villas, restaurants and bars, and tour operators are simultaneously finalizing protocols and gearing up to accept bookings. See www.turksandcaicostourism.com.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
UPDATED AUG. 17: After reopening earlier this summer, the U.S. Virgin Islands is closing its borders again, effective Aug. 19, in an effort to contain rising COVID-19 numbers. See https://www.visitusvi.com.
On June 1 Los Cabos launched Phase I of a five-phase approach that applies to all travel sectors and service operators. Upon completion, hotels, timeshares and some travel operators will be able to resume activities. The Los Cabos Tourism Board also confirmed that 62% of the destination’s hotel inventory will resume operations, while airlines including AS, AA, WN and DL have announced their return. Los Cabos is projecting the return of Canadian travellers as part of Phase IV, between October and December 2020. See https://www.visitloscabos.travel/industry/health-safety-standards/.
Mazatlán’s beaches and hotels reopened to tourists on July 1 following 90 days of safety protocols training. During the three-month closure, the destination established and implemented strict safety measures in partnership with Preverisk, an international certification company. AS such, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has awarded Mazatlán with the Safe Travels stamp, recognizing its commitment to travellers’ safety.
All local services that are part of the Responsible Tourism Chain will participate in ‘the new normal’, including the airport, transportation services, hotels, restaurants and tours.
Puerto Vallarta began reopening its beaches and hotels at the end of June, with hotel capacity at a maximum 30%. For the list of current hotels that have reopened go to visitpuertovallarta.com/covid19.php.
While hotels have begun to gradually reopen, the iconic Malecon waterfront promenade has yet to fully open to the public, with only access points to restaurants and shops. Bars remain closed until the destination completes its current phase of the reopening process.
Safety measures at Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport include social distancing practiced by airport workers, thermal video cameras, electronic documentation, and disinfectant mats at all entrances and exits.
Canadian airlines are awaiting approvals from the Canadian government to resume service to Puerto Vallarta. Service is tentatively scheduled to resume with the following airlines: Air Canada (September 2020); Air Transat (fall-winter 2020); Sunwing (fall-winter 2020), and WestJet (fall-winter 2020).
The Quintana Roo Tourism Board, which represents 12 destinations in the Mexican Caribbean including Cancun, Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen, started its gradual reopening on June 8 with 30% of hotels in operation. By July 1, 75% are expected to be open. Cancun and Cozumel International Airports have introduced several safety protocols, including: permanent temperature checks for all passengers; social distancing measures; the installation of protective screens; sanitization and deep cleaning; and a travel questionnaire to identify risk factors. According to the Tourism Board’s Director, Dario Flota, the Mexican government does not plan to enforce mandatory quarantines for visitors – only for those presenting symptoms and who test positive for COVID-19. For more information go to www.mexicancaribbean.travel.
June 15 marked the official reopening of Riviera Nayarit, with some hotels, restaurants and businesses in the tourism sector welcoming back international travellers. To ensure safe social distancing on property, all reopened businesses are operating at just 30% capacity. Other businesses will gradually reopen in the upcoming weeks. Riviera Nayarit joins the growing list of global destinations to earn the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travel Stamp, granted to destinations and hotels that have adopted WTTC-approved health and hygiene protocols. All travellers arriving at Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) will undergo temperature screenings via thermal imaging cameras upon arrival and departure. For more information go to https://www.aeropuertosgap.com.mx/en/ and https://www.travelweek.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/English-PROTOCOLO-DE-REFORZAMIENTO-EN-LOS-PUNTOS-DE-ENTRADA-INTERNACIONAL-APTO-PVR.pdf.
On June 15 select European countries began opening their borders to travellers from other European countries. However, while the European Commission has recommended that all Schengen area and EU countries reopen their internal borders to get tourism started again, the final decision is up to each individual country. Also Europe’s external borders, to travellers from outside of Europe, remain closed and will remain closed until at least early July.
In the meantime, a new website from the EU, ‘Re-open EU’, is an interactive tool which aims to support a safe relaunch of travelling and tourism across Europe. The platform provides real-time information on borders and available means of transport and tourism services, as well as health and safety measures and restrictions across all EU Member States (27 countries). It is available in all 24 languages of the EU.
On July 3 government officials in the UK have released an official list of low-risk countries whose residents will be allowed to travel to the UK starting July 10 without having to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. So far Canada is not on the list, however officials have indicated that countries may be added to the list over the coming weeks following further discussions between the UK and international partners. The UK’s list can be seen here.
Updated Aug. 28:
Hawaii is delaying the start of its pre-travel testing program from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Starting Oct. 1, all trans-Pacific travellers will be able to forgo the 14-day mandatory quarantine providing they take a valid COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival and show proof of a negative test result. If they fail to meet the requirements, they will be placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine until a negative test is received.
The FDA-approved Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) must be from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab and will need to be done prior to arrival. No testing will be done upon arrival at the airport.
Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hawaii Tourism Canada are working to see how the Hawaii Department of Health can accept tests taken by Canadian provincial health authorities as valid for the pre-testing program. There are a select few private CLIA-certified laboratories in Canada where travellers can get an approved test.
For more details see visit https://health.hawaii.gov/travel/.
International travellers arriving in Ecuador by air are no longer required to quarantine so long as they present a negative COVID-19 PCR test prior to arrival. The new rule – which went into effect on Aug. 15 – states that PCR tests must be performed within 10 days prior to the trip. Quick tests are not valid.
Passengers who do not present a negative PCR test may take a test at their own cost, using the services of a laboratory accredited by the Agency for the Assurance of Quality of Health Services (ACESS). Self-isolation is mandatory while they wait for the test results. If negative they can leave the isolation; if positive they must self-isolate for a total of 14 days, at their own expense, in hotels or private accommodation.
All passengers must also fill out and sign the Traveler’s Health Declaration and deliver it upon arrival in the country.