Wednesday 12 August, 2020

Caribbean countries tweak protocols and processes with new COVID cases

Some Caribbean nations are rolling back their re-opening and tightening restrictions as COVID-19 rates spoke post-lockdown.

In The Bahamas, US Virgin Islands, St Maarten and Jamaica, re-opening of borders and the welcoming of much-needed tourists, particularly from the United States, have seen a rise in new cases.

As such, islands have implemented a variety of initiatives to help manage the visitors to their shores.

To reduce the spread of the virus, the US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism announced the launch of phase one of a new online portal that will pre-screen and assist with the certification process of all travellers prior to their arrival in the Territory. 

The US Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands has launched a Travel Screening Portal to facilitate pre-arrival processing.

Upon visiting the portal, all travelers will be greeted with a welcome that guides them through a series of screens, including General Information, Terms and Conditions, Traveler Information, and the COVID-19 Traveller Screening Tool. After travellers from highly impacted areas upload their COVID-19 test results, the information submitted will be processed in 24-48 hours and a certification code issued immediately upon completion.  

For most travellers, the portal screening and certification will eventually replace the existing manual procedure, which requires the physical completion and review of the COVID-19 Traveller Screening Tool at the Territory’s ports of entry.

Once the passenger arrives, the Virgin Islands Port Authority, in conjunction with the Department of Health and the Virgin Islands National Guard, will process the traveller using the validation generated from the portal in addition to performing temperature checks with a thermal scanner.

Any traveller aged 15 and older whose home state (state of residence) has a COVID-19 positivity rate greater than 10 percent will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 antigen (molecular/PCR/rapid) test result received within five days prior to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands or a positive COVID-19 antibody test result received within four months of travel to the Territory. Currently, residents of Puerto Rico are also subject to this requirement.

COVID-19 test results are also required from travellers, 15 years old and older, who have spent more than seven days in and are traveling from a state with a positivity rate greater than 10 percent.

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Jamaica has announced revised measures for international travelers visiting the island as of July 15.

All visitors will still be required to complete an online Travel Authorisation. Travelers from Arizona, Florida, New York, and Texas (areas declared by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as high risk at this time), will be required to upload negative COVID-19 PCR test results. Tests should be no more than 10 days old measured from the day the sample was taken to the day of arrival in Jamaica.

These results, provided by a CAP-accredited lab, are required for travelers from high risk locations to receive the Travel Authorization certification, and must also be presented upon arrival in Jamaica. All visitors will still be screened upon arrival in Jamaica via thermal temperature checks, symptom observation and a brief interview with a Health Officer.

Leisure travelers from areas not currently designated as high risk may be subject to swab testing based on symptoms or responses to the risk assessment. Those with negative results – as well as those who do not require testing – must adhere to the Stay in Zone order, which requires persons to remain at their hotel or resort within the Resilient Corridor for the duration of their stay. Those who are screened and assessed and show symptoms upon arrival will be subject to swab testing and must quarantine in their hotel room until test results are available. 

Visitors staying outside the Resilient Corridor, who are deemed to be high risk, will be required to take a COVID-19 PCR test once they arrive in Jamaica and will be under quarantine orders until test results are returned. Positive cases will be isolated in home or state facilities depending on an assessment by the health authorities. Visitors who are low risk will not be required to be tested but will be under the stay at home measure for 14 days. All Business travelers will receive a swab test at the airport, and must remain in quarantine until results are available.

Travelers from high-risk areas must complete the Travel Authorization between two and five days prior to their planned arrival in Jamaica. The online authorisation includes the immigration form, thereby streamlining the entry process. Approved travelers will receive a travel certificate, which must be presented (printed or electronic) during the airline check-in process.

Travelers from high-risk areas will receive their travel certification or denial 48 hours after submitting their questionnaire. All other travelers may complete the form any time within the five days prior to planned arrival and will receive immediate approval or denial through a scoring algorithm.

The current process will be in effect through July 31. Jamaica’s health and safety measures are revisited every two weeks.

The Bahamas

As of July 27, curfew has been reinstated from 7 pm to 5 pm in The Bahamas.

Under the new State of Emergency orders gyms, museums, bars, discos and the straw market will be closed and Jet Ski operators will not be allowed to operate. There will be no dining at restaurants.

Travel in and out of Grand Bahama has been stopped and all travellers to The Bahamas must first obtain a health card.

St Maarten

Passengers arriving from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Canada, Cayman Isl., China (People's Rep.), Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, France, French West Indies, Germany, Grenada, Italy, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherlands, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Isl. or Virgin Isl. (British) must have a completed health declaration form obtained at

Passengers arriving from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Cayman Isl., China (People's Rep.), Cuba, Dominica, France, Germany, Grenada, Italy, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherlands, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Isl. or Virgin Isl. (British) must have a medical certificate with a negative Coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR laboratory test taken and the result within 72 hours before arrival. This does not apply to passengers younger than 10 years;

Effective August 1, passengers arriving from the USA must have a completed health declaration form obtained at and have a medical certificate with a negative Coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR laboratory test taken and the result issued within 72 hours before arrival.

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