COVID-19 Lockdown In the Caribbean

 By Anna Landre and Germán Parodi, The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies

Caribbean island countries and territories are often those most at risk in the event of a disaster in the Americas.

The extent to which island governments and civil society are able to respond and recover from disasters and implement risk reduction policies is highly dependent on the context of their respective circumstances and capabilities. Island countries and territories face difficult challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including less access to resources, more vulnerable health care infrastructure, and low state capacity. 

Many Caribbean island countries and territories have travel advisories due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their domestic environment.

The Antilles and Bermuda are already facing hurricane season and climate change-related challenges like rising sea levels; and, the combined economic and health effects of the pandemic have become increasingly difficult for governments to contain the spread and treat the disease. The sudden downturn in foreign travel has also caused hardship for island countries and territories that rely heavily on tourism to fuel their economies. 

For many residents of this region, accessing health services is already difficult due to poverty and limited health care infrastructure.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on regular health services, including immunization. So far, the reported number of COVID-19 related deaths per 100,000 people is higher in island countries compared to other country groups. In particular, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago are experiencing death rates as high as some of the hardest hit countries in Europe. It is also important to note that the number of cases and deaths may rise quickly with the easing of travel restrictions and increased testing and reporting capabilities. 

Additionally, Caribbean island countries and territories have a high prevalence of pre-existing disabilities and health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

This makes their populations more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19, and more likely to develop severe symptoms. For reference, the Global Health Security Index (HSI), a comprehensive measurement of a country’s health security and related capabilities, “shows that small island countries have relatively poorer health capabilities, particularly in prevention, detection, rapid response to epidemics, and ability to treat the sick and protect health workers.”

Across governments, the Sendai Framework points to four main priority areas for countries to effectively prepare for and respond to disaster situations:

Priority 1: Understanding disaster risk.

Priority 2: Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk.

Priority 3: Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.

Priority 4: Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in                                recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.

In order to properly address these priorities, governments must engage in a people-centered approach to disaster planning, and in particular, must emphasize the inclusion of people with disabilities.

By consulting relevant stakeholders in the disability community, governments can properly address disaster risks by creating more accessible and equitable response, recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction practices that save lives. As the Sendai Framework notes, “persons with disabilities and their organizations are critical in the assessment of disaster risk and in designing and implementing plans,” especially in issues of universal design. Members of the disability community should also be a part of leadership positions and government policymaking on disaster issues. 

It will be an ongoing challenge for Caribbean island countries and territories to respond to and recover from COVID-19, and it will require financial assistance and experienced cross-sectorial subject matter expertise.

Emphasis should also be placed on preparing for future pandemics, which will become more common in an increasingly interconnected world.

Below are specific travel restrictions set by island countries and territories in the Caribbean. 

Anguilla

  • Persons are free to depart Anguilla without special permission from the government.
  • All persons arriving in Anguilla under the repatriation process are bound by the Quarantine (COVID) rules, signed by the Ministry of Health of June 5, 2020. These regulations require mandatory 14-days quarantine for all.  Anyone failing to comply with these regulations commits and offense pursuant to section 7(2) of the Quarantine Act.
  • All persons arriving in Anguilla who have travelled outside of the Caribbean Region within the last 14 days will be quarantined for 14 days on their arrival. A judgement will be made on arrival by health professionals if this can be self-quarantine or in a government run health facility.

Antigua and Barbuda

  • Antigua & Barbuda borders reopened on June 1, 2020.
  • All arriving passengers by air must have a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) taken within seven (7) days of their flight. (this includes transiting passengers).
  • All arriving passengers must wear a face mask on disembarkation and in all public areas. Additionally, the wearing of face masks in public spaces is mandatory throughout Antigua and Barbuda and social/physical distancing protocols must be adhered to.
  • The regulations published on June 10, 2020 states that “All visitors to Antigua and Barbuda shall be tested for COVID-19 and shall pay a charge of One Hundred Dollars (US$100.00) United States Currency or its equivalent in Eastern Caribbean Dollars as a charge for the test.

Aruba

  • Effective March 29, 2020, Aruba limited entry to Aruba to all travelers, except for legal residents of Aruba.
  • Aruba has announced some limited relaxations of those travel restrictions for travelers that can present a negative PCR COVID-19 test and the purchase of mandatory health insurance that covers the traveler in Aruba (see links and contact information below in local resources):
    • Flights to and from Bonaire and Curacao resumed on June 15, 2020
    • Flights to and from Canada, Europe, and some Caribbean nations resumed July 1, 2020
    • Flights to and from the United States resumed on July 10, 2020

Bahamas

  • The Bahamas reopened its international borders on July 1, 2020 to all travelers, including visitors, via commercial airlines, private aviation, and vessels.
  • On July 22, the Prime Minister of The Bahamas signed updated Emergency Orders. Key highlights include: 
    • All travelers entering The Bahamas via commercial air (regardless of country of origin, including the United States) must undergo a 14-day quarantine in a government facility upon arrival, at their own expense, to be followed by an RT PCR COVID-19 molecular test at the end of the quarantine period.
    • The above 14-day quarantine applies to persons entering The Bahamas via commercial air. It does not apply to private flights, charter flights, pleasure craft, or yachts (from any country). However, visitors entering via private or charter vessels must still follow the other mandatory entry requirements for entering The Bahamas, to include the COVID-19 testing and Travel Health Visa Application procedures outlined below (under Mandatory Entry Requirements, below).
    • If traveling from one Bahamian island to another, any persons leaving a Bahamian island for which there is an impending lockdown order must, at their own expense, submit to a 14-day quarantine in a government facility upon arriving at their destination island within The Bahamas, to be followed by an RT PCR COVID-19 molecular test at the end of the quarantine period.

Barbados

  • All travelers to Barbados must complete a Pre-Arrival on-line Embarkation/Disembarkation (ED) form. It is urged that this be done at least 24hrs before arrival. This online form will include ED information, such as intended address and health information, and will allow for the uploading of COVID 19 PCR test results.
  • Persons travelling to Barbados are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 PCR Test from an accredited or certified facility/laboratory. Persons < 5 years of age will not routinely be required to have a COVID-19 PCR Test unless they are symptomatic or their guardian has a positive test. Unaccompanied minors will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test to enter Barbados.
  • Persons without a validated negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited or recognized laboratory will be required to take a test upon arrival.
  • Persons who are from high-risk countries will be quarantine for at least 7 days, monitored daily and retested for COVID-19.

Bermuda

  • Pre-departure — A traveller must:
    • Complete the Bermuda travel authorisation online; a $75 fee is required, which includes the cost of the PCR COVID-19 testing in Bermuda.
    • A visitor must take a certified PCR COVID-19 test, ideally within 72 hours of departure, but no more than five days, and obtain a negative result. This applies to adults and children aged 10 and up. Children who are 9-years-old and younger are exempt and are subject to their adult travel companion’s quarantine.
    • Bermuda residents are not required to get a test before travelling to Bermuda. Residents includes work permit holders.
  • Upon arrival, travellers must:
    • present a copy of the pre-departure PCR COVID-19 negative test result to health officers on request.
    • Residents and visitors will undergo PCR COVID-19 testing at the Bermuda L.F. Wade International Airport and quarantine at home or in their room at their accommodation until results are ready (turnaround time between 6 to 8 hours in most cases, when arrival happens during the day). This applies to adults and children ages 10 and up. Children less than 10 years-old are exempt from the PCR COVID-19 test.

Bonaire

  • Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Bonaire limited entry to Bonaire to all travelers, except for legal residents of Bonaire.
  • Bonaire has announced some limited relaxations of those travel restrictions for travelers that can present a negative COVID-19 test and proof of health insurance that covers the traveler overseas:
    • Flights to and from Curacao resumed on June 12, 2020
    • Flights to and from Aruba resumed on June 15, 2020
    • Flights to and from Europe resumed on July 1, 2020

British Virgin Islands

  • Borders are reopened to Nationals and Permanent Residents
  • Private vessels are allowed to operate within territorial waters between 5 am and 7 pm.
  • Ferries are allowed to operate within territorial waters between 5 am and midnight.
  • Visitors seeking to depart via air, should contact the airlines to confirm travel from TB Lettsome International Airport.
  • All passengers will be subjected to mandatory quarantine for at least 14 days.

Cayman Islands

  • All airports in the Cayman Islands will remain closed to international leisure and non-essential travel until at least 1 September 2020.
  • Cruise ships and private vessels are also not being accepted to the ports of the Cayman Islands.

Cuba

  • On March 20, the Government of Cuba announced the closure of its borders to non-Cuban citizens.
  • On April 2, the Cuban government suspended the arrival and departure of all international flights. The suspension has been extended until August 1, 2020.

Curacao 

  • On March 30, 2020, Curacao limited entry to Curacao to all travelers, except for legal residents of Curacao with specific permission from the local government.
  • Curacao has announced some limited relaxations of those travel restrictions for travelers that can present a negative COVID-19 test (see links below in local resources):
    • Flights to and from Bonaire resumed on June 12, 2020
    • Flights to and from Sint Maarten resumed on June 19, 2020
    • Flights to and from Sint Maarten resumed on June 19, 2020
    • Flights to and from the Netherlands resumed on July 1, 2020
  • Travelers who have been physically present in a high-risk country (including the United States) within the past 14-days cannot enter Curacao.
  • To request an exception in very limited circumstances, travelers must write to reisverificatie.cur@gobiernu.cw to request permission in addition to providing a negative COVID-19 PCR test result and agreeing to a 14-day mandatory quarantine in a quarantine facility at the traveler’s expense.
  • Travelers may also wait 14 days in a low-risk third country (Aruba, for example) and then travel to Curacao without quarantine restrictions.

Dominica

  • Borders are scheduled to reopen on July 15, 2020 for nationals. Visitors will be allowed beginning August 7, 2020.
  • Compulsory requirements for all arriving passengers to Dominica
  • All travelers must:
    • Submit a health questionnaire online at least 24 hours prior to arrival.
    • Show the notification of clearance to travel
    • Submit a negative PCR test result recorded with 24-72 hours prior to arrival
  •  General protocols and guidelines upon arrival
      • Travelers are required to wear face masks at all times during the arrival process up to and including departure from the airport.
      • Travelers must observe physical distancing guidelines
      • Travelers must practice good respiratory and personal sanitization
      • Travelers must follow all instructions of health care staff and officials

Dominican Republic

  • The Dominican government allowed the resumption of commercial aviation effective July 1. Contact the airlines directly to make a reservation to return to the United States.
  • Cruise arrivals have been suspended at all ports and coasts.
  • The curfew in the Dominican Republic is strictly enforced.  People who must travel during curfew hours for international travel may be asked to show their passport, ticket, and travel itinerary to authorities to be allowed to continue to the airport.
  • Temperature checks may be implemented on arrival or departure by Dominican authorities.

Grenada

  • There is currently no announced date for continuation of commercial passenger flights to and from the United States.
  • The Government of Grenada announced limited resumption of commercial passenger flights from some Eastern Caribbean countries starting July 15 and resumption of flights from the Caribbean, Canada, and the UK starting July 31.  
  • U.S. citizens who arrive via pleasure craft or through the above countries are required to submit to COVID-19 testing and possible quarantine. 

Guadeloupe

  • Arriving passengers must carry out a PCR test 72 hours before their departure
  • Passengers who test positive for COVID-19 cannot fly
  • Those with a negative test can perform 7 days of quarantine, followed by a new PCR test after 7 days.
  • If the passenger has not carried out a boarding test, he must carry out a strict fortnight upon arrival in the territory
  • Travelers from mainland France must also present a sworn statement that they have no symptoms and that they are not aware of having been in contact with a confirmed case of covid-19 in the 14 days preceding the flight

Haiti

  • The international airport in Port-au-Prince is open to regular two-way commercial passenger flights as of June 30. Commercial airlines resumed regular flight services to and from Haiti beginning on July 1.
  • The land border with the Dominican Republic is open to pedestrian and vehicular traffic as of July 1.
  • The Government of Haiti has recently mandated that every person flying into Haiti self-declare their COVID-19 status. 
  • The Government of Haiti has stated it will impose a requirement that all arriving passengers self-quarantine for 14 days.

Jamaica

  • Visitors to Jamaica will be required to undergo a health screening and risk assessment. 
  • Visitors should expect to complete a COVID-19 test upon arrival. If the test is positive, or if visitors develop COVID-19 symptoms during quarantine, they should expect to be placed in mandatory isolation.
  • Visitors to Jamaica are required to remain within the “COVID-19 Resilient Corridor,” a defined geographical area within Jamaica designed for tourism purposes

Martinique

  • Passengers can carry out a PCR test for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Passengers who test positive for COVID-19 cannot fly
  • Those with a negative test can perform 7 days of quarantine, followed by a new PCR test after 7 days.
  • If the passenger has not carried out a boarding test, he must carry out a strict fortnight upon arrival in the territory
  • Arriving passengers not tested for COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Martinique,

Montserrat 

  • Persons allowed to travel to Montserrat are: Montserratians, permanent residents (spouse, child or other dependent of a Montserratian or permanent resident), member of the crew of an aircraft or ship, non-resident technician and persons who owns a habitable house or home in Montserrat
  • The “Access Declaration Form” must be completed and submitted at least 72 hours/ 3 days prior to the expected date of arrival.
  • All persons must wear a mask or face covering on the aircraft and while being processed at the airport.
  • All persons arriving in Montserrat must self-quarantine for 14 days commencing on the date of arrival.
  • Persons arriving on Montserrat may be subjected to medical examinations. Medical Officers are authorized to conduct clinical examination and isolate any person who is considered to be high risk of being infected with COVID-19.

Puerto Rico, U.S.

  • Puerto Rico has postponed its tourism reopening and encourages only essential travel. 
  • Travelers must get a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to visiting, or they must quarantine. 

Saba

  • Effective March 16, 2020 Saba limited entry to Saba to all travelers except for legal residents of Saba.
  • Saba has announced some limited relaxations of those travel restrictions:
    • Effective July 10, passengers from Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Eustatius can travel to Saba without quarantine requirements and can transit via Sint Maarten
    • Effective July 10, passengers from Sint Maarten can travel to Saba without quarantine for essential travel and work only.
    • Effective July 10, passengers from Europe can travel to Saba only for repatriation of residents, essential workers, medical travelers, and medical students and will be subject to quarantine upon arrival.
    • Effective July 10, passengers from the United States (and other countries in North and South America) can travel to Saba only for repatriation of residents, essential workers, medical travelers, and medical students and will be subject COVID-19 testing prior to arrival and additional quarantine upon arrival.

Saint Barthelemy

  • Travelers are required to wear a face mask when entering the airport
  • Arriving passengers must carry out a PCR test 72 hours before their departure
  • Passengers who test positive for COVID-19 cannot fly
  • Those with a negative test can perform 7 days of quarantine, followed by a new PCR test after 7 days.
  • If the passenger has not carried out a boarding test, he must carry out a strict fortnight upon arrival in the territory

Saint Kitts and Nevis

  • All non-national travelers arriving from any other international destination will go through advanced screening process at point of entry, subjected to a mandatory quarantine period of not less than 14 days at a government designated quarantine site, and may be refused entry.
  • All incoming passengers will be subjected to the 14-day quarantine. 

Saint Lucia 

  • All arriving passengers will be quarantined for 14 days.
  • All arriving passengers (with the exception of persons travelling from within the Caribbean bubble) must have a negative result from a PCR test within 7 days of travel
  • All persons entering Saint Lucia (including persons arriving from within the “Travel Bubble”) must complete a Pre-Arrival Travel Registration Form to ensure efficient and expedited processing on arrival. Please print and travel with a copy of your registration form. The form can be accessed at stlucia.org/covid-19

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 

  • PHASE #1 – The period of July 1-31 will be used to determine the incidence of COVID-19 in passengers arriving from different countries. During this phase:
    • ALL travelers entering St Vincent and the Grenadines must have a negative PCR COVID-19 test result done within five (5) days of arrival or will have a PCR COVID-19 test done on arrival.
    • ALL travelers who have a PCR COVID-19 test done on arrival will be quarantined for at least 24 hours to await their PCR test results.
    • ALL travelers who arrive by air will be quarantined for at least 24 hours to await the PCR test results of all passengers from the same flight.
    • During this phase the CARICOM Bubble will not apply.

Sint Eustatius

  • Effective July 1, 2020 Sint Eustatius has announced some limited relaxations of its travel restrictions:
    • Passengers from Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Maarten, and St. Kitts and Nevis can request entry to Sint Eustatius without quarantine restrictions
    • Passengers from Aruba, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France can request entry to Sint Eustatius, but must comply with a home-based quarantine.
    • Passengers from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic, and most South and Central American countries can request entry to Sint Eustatius, but must comply with a mandatory quarantine in a quarantine facility

Sint Maarten 

  • Arriving passengers must carry out a PCR test 72 hours before their departure
  • Passengers who test positive for COVID-19 cannot fly
  • Those with a negative test can perform 7 days of quarantine, followed by a new PCR test after 7 days.
  • If the passenger has not carried out a boarding test, he must carry out a strict fortnight upon arrival in the territory

Trinidad and Tobago

  • All borders are closed until further notice to both nationals and non-nationals. Exemption requests must be made to the Ministry of National Security.
  • International and regional cargo vessels and flights will continue to be allowed in T&T. Protocols have been put in place to ensure no crew member is allowed to disembark.

Turks and Caicos Islands

  • In accordance with the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Emergency Powers regulations for COVID-19, all airports and seaports remain closed to incoming regional and international flights with visitors (both commercial and private) and seafaring vessels with visitors until July 22, 2020.  
  • Presently, the following are exempted and permitted to enter TCI by international air travel: Turks and Caicos Islanders; legal permanent residents;  and Residence Permit holders married to Turks and Caicos Islanders; Residence Permit Certificate holders and Work Permit Holders.

U.S. Virgin Islands

  • Effective July 15, 2020, any traveler whose home state has a COVID-19 positive rate of greater than 10% will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 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.

The following are travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State for island countries and territories in the Caribbean. 

Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions

  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Curacao 
  • French West Indies 
  • Grenada
  • Mauritius
  • Montserrat 
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis 
  • Saint Lucia 
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 
  • Sint Maarten 

Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

  • Bahamas 
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Jamaica
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Trinidad and Tobago

Level 4: Do Not Travel

  • Haiti

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *