Puerto Rico to keep its borders closed to non-essential travel indefinitely
It looks like The Bahamas won’t be the only popular Caribbean destination stopping U.S. travelers from visiting this summer. Puerto Rico, which reopened briefly on July 15, will remain closed to domestic and international tourism indefinitely following a recent spike in Covid-19 cases. No new reopening date has been released yet and Discover Puerto Rico’s travel advisory states that until further notice, only essential travel will be allowed to the island, while “a continuous assessment of the situation in Puerto Rico and in the United States will influence Island-wide orders that prioritize health and safety.”
In other words, you probably won’t be able to visit Puerto Rico this summer, and if you’re already there, it’s definitely not going to be your typical carefree vacation.
Last week, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced the latest round of health and safety measures being taken to better protect residents. For starters, face masks must be worn at all times—over your nose and mouth whether you’re inside or outside—or you could face fines, and you’ll need to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet from anyone outside your group whenever you’re in a public space.
As of July 17, all bars, clubs, gyms, casinos, theaters and other attractions are closed until further notice, and you won’t be able to buy alcohol anywhere after 7 p.m. Restaurants and museums can stay open as long as they’re running at 50% capacity and everyone is social distancing. Hotels are still open but guests must maintain proper distancing measures and wear masks in all public areas. Malls, hair salons and spas are open by appointment only, while hotels and restaurants are conducting temperature checks to ensure guests have temps under 100.3 degrees before they’re allowed to enter. Public transportation is also suspended and there’s an Island-wide curfew in place between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. through July 31.
Additionally, you’re only allowed to go to the beach between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. if you’ll be jogging, swimming or surfing—no strolling on the beach or sun tanning here—and any recreational activities involving boats are off the table right now. All marinas, tourist attractions and tours are closed for the foreseeable future, as are hotel pools and fitness facilities. You can, however, go to the golf course Monday through Saturday. Tourists also aren’t allowed to take the ferry to Vieques or Culebra, as that privilege is reserved for residents only. Things are even more strict on Sundays, when alcohol sales are prohibited and all non-essential services—except gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants providing pick-up or delivery—are closed.
Beyond that, if you are planning any essential travel to Puerto Rico or want to visit whenever it officially reopens, be aware that arrival procedures have changed due to the pandemic. Mask-wearing and social distancing are mandatory as soon as you enter the airport, and thermographic cameras are there to monitor your temperature as you proceed through customs. You’ll need to fill out a Travel Declaration Form ahead of time online through the Puerto Rico Health Department’s website, and upon landing in San Juan, present negative test results from a molecular Covid-19 test taken within the last 72 hours.
If you’re unable to show a negative test result, you might be able to do a Covid-19 test locally, but you’ll have to self-isolate until you can prove you have one. In some cases, especially if you are showing symptoms at the airport, a rapid COVID-19 test may be conducted and a 14-day quarantine may be ordered. In all situations, you’re expected to pay for any associated medical or accommodation expenses.
Puerto Rico has done a decent job keeping Covid-19 under control, thanks to a series of health and safety guidelines aimed at keeping both visitors and residents from spreading the virus. As of this writing, The New York Times reports there have been 12,940 cases in Puerto Rico since the start of the pandemic, compared to the rest of the U.S., which has now surpassed 3.9 million cases.
Delta turns flight around because passengers refused to wear a mask
Last week, a Delta Airlines flight out of Detroit had to return to the gate after two passengers aboard refused to wear a mask. A spokesperson for Delta stated that the "customers in question were removed due to non-compliance with Delta’s mask requirement." Delta's website states the current mask policy as this:Delta customers and employees are required to wear a face mask, or appropriate cloth face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their travel, aligning with best practice guidelines from the CDC, opens in a new window. Plastic face shields may be used in addition to a mask but are not approved mask replacements. Any mask with an exhaust valve is not approved as an acceptable face mask for customers traveling on any Delta operated flight. Face coverings will be required across all Delta touchpoints: Lobby Check-in Delta Sky Clubs Boarding Gate Areas Jet Bridges On board the aircraft for the duration of the flight – except during meal service Usage is strongly encouraged in high-traffic areas, including security lines and restrooms.
Border between the USA and Mexico to remain closed due to COVID-19
The land border between the USA and Mexico will remain closed through at least August 20, 2020 to all but essential travel. The prolonged closure began in March 2020, and it comes in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic in both countries. While flights between the two countries are still happening, people are encouraged to research any quarantine restrictions in their destination. Essential travel is defined as: U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States; Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States); Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions; Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico in furtherance of such work); Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to Covid-19 or other emergencies); Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico); Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel; Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
The Bahamas becomes the latest country to ban US travelers
NASSAU, Bahamas, July 19, 2020 – Due to the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in the United States, as well as an uptick in cases in The Bahamas, Prime Minister, The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, has made the difficult decision to close borders to international commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers from the United States. The order is effective as of Wednesday, July 22 at midnight. In addition, Bahamasair will cease outgoing flights to the United States, effective immediately. Outgoing flights will be permitted to accommodate any current visitors scheduled to return to the United States after Wednesday, July 22. Private flights and charters from the United States, as well as pleasure craft and yachts will be permitted, and travellers from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union are exempt from the emergency order. All visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test from a referenced lab, taken no more than 10 days prior to the date of travel. Since opening borders to international travel on July 1, The Bahamas has unfortunately experienced a deterioration in conditions relative to COVID-19. These restrictions have been put in place to protect the health and wellbeing of both residents and visitors, which remains of primary importance, and to prevent the spread of the virus throughout The Bahamas. The Bahamas is reviewing and being guided by the most effective practices from around the world. Reopening of borders will continue to be monitored and guided by The Bahamas government and health officials, based on COVID-19 trends.
Canada confirms its border with America will stay closed
"We recognize that the situation continues to be complex in the United States in regards to COVID-19," Trudeau said on Monday. "Every month, we have been able to extend the border closures to all but essential goods and services and those discussions are ongoing."The ban on US travel has been in place since March 21. Canada joins with the European Union in banning incoming travel from the USA.