By Laurie Baratti
With much of the Caribbean gradually reopening for tourism, and summer weather beckoning vacationers to its warm beaches and tropical island shores, a jaunt over to Jamaica sounds like an ideal escape right about now.
But, remember, reopenings are occurring in phases, so you’ll need to determine what sort of welcome you can expect to receive upon arrival.
In a recent bulletin, Jamaica’s prime minister announced revised rules for entry into the island — namely, that all nonbusiness travelers, ages 12 and up, coming from the states of Arizona, New York, Florida and Texas will be required to upload proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a laboratory that’s been accredited by the College of American Pathologists within 10 days of their intended arrival in Jamaica.
Jamaica’s other controlled-entry requirements, which vary according to each incoming traveler’s point of origin, had already been implemented when the island began its initial phase of reopening to international travelers on June 15. The change for U.S. visitors coming from high-risk states will take effect on Wednesday and will remain in force through at least July 31.
Everyone traveling to Jamaica (residents and visitors alike) is required to complete and submit a Travel Authorization application online prior to arrival, in order to expedite arrival and risk assessment process.
You can book a flight to Jamaica without your Travel Authorization, but airlines won’t allow passengers to check-in or board without it, so it’s best to be prepared.
Types of Travel Restrictions:
n Travelers who are residents of high-risk areas, as designated by Jamaican health authorities, are required to pre-test for COVID-19 no more than 10 days prior to their intended arrival in Jamaica.
A certificate of a COVID-19 PCR test’s negative results will need to be uploaded as part of the Travel Authorization application process online.
In addition to uploading the PCR test results to the website, travelers will be required to present the original document upon arrival in Jamaica. Business travelers and visitors under the age of 12 are considered exempt.
n At the discretion of Jamaican airport health officials, even persons who have a negative COVID-19 PCR pretest may need to test again upon arrival if they’re exhibiting symptoms of illness or belong to certain high-risk groups. They would then await test results while quarantining in their hotel room (up to 48 hours).
n Travelers from designated low-risk areas are not required to pretest or provide results upfront, but will be subject to screening procedures upon arrival in Jamaica. Those deemed high-risk, or who are displaying symptoms of illness, may be required to test at the airport or other authorized facility and await their results in quarantine.
n Those from low-risk areas who clear airport health checks may proceed to their hotel and go on to enjoy their trip, as long as they remain within the so-called “Resilient Corridor” that’s been plotted out under Jamaica’s “Stay in Zone” measure as part of the first phase of reopening. The zone runs from Negril all the way along the coast to Portland.
n Business travelers do not need to pretest and will be tested upon arrival at the airport and must await their test results under quarantine at their hotel/declared address.
n Those who plan to stay someplace outside the Resilient Corridor will be required to pretest if coming from high-risk areas.
Those who aren’t required to pre-test, but are determined to be high-risk upon arrival at the airport will need to be tested and await their results under quarantine at their hotel/declared address.
All residents and visitors to Jamaica are required to observe all of the standard sanitization, hygiene, physical-distancing and mask-wearing protocols during their time in the country, as dictated by the Stay in Zone order.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will, obviously, be placed into isolation either at their accommodations or in a government facility, to be determined by health authorities, while they recover.
The only accommodations currently allowed to accept guests are those situated on the beach side of the main thoroughfare from Negril to Portland, and those in the Kingston Business District; and only properties that have received their COVID-19 Compliant Certificate are permitted to take in guests.
The list of approved properties is updated daily at visitjamaica.com.