Jamaica is open for tourists again, but only if you follow all of these rules
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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
After three months of preventative measures designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Jamaica is reopening for tourism today, 15 June. But travellers hoping to escape social distancing and face masks will not find the easy holiday they’re looking for — the country has published a 119-page guide for local hospitality procedures to prove it.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still spreading in Jamaica, so keep that in mind. Still, the country has only reported 615 confirmed cases and 10 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
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Opening in phases
Phase One of reopening falls between 15 and 30 June, and will be limited to a “resilient corridor” of coastline destinations between Negril and Port Antonio. Only licensed tourism businesses and transportation companies that have been assessed by the tourism board can operate in this region during this time. Incoming visitors and residents alike will be asked to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing procedures while in the country.
Airports and seaports began gradual reopening procedures on 1 June, and Jamaican citizens and legal residents who previously were unable to return home can now travel back into the country.
Note that a country-wide curfew is in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night through 30 June.
Arriving travellers must follow an “extensive” set of health screening procedures, beginning with a mandatory pre-travel health authorization registration before departure. The online form requires an email address and password authentication, as well as full personal and health information as well as Jamaican-local contact information. After providing consent and agreeing to the health agreement, you will also complete a customs and immigration form.
Upon submission, your application will be “instantly” reviewed and your level of risk for COVID-19 transmission will be assessed based on your submitted details, according to the Visit Jamaica registration page.
Travellers above a certain risk threshold will be asked to avoid travelling to Jamaica at this time, while travellers under the threshold will be issued a travel approval document. Passengers must print their approval forms beforehand to show to an agent upon flight check-in or boarding. Airlines will not allow any travellers to board flights into Jamaica without proof of prior authorization.
All incoming travellers should expect thermal temperature checks, health screenings and an interview with a health official upon arrival, and anyone who shows COVID-19 symptoms or feels ill upon arrival will be quarantined. The new 15 June policy supersedes previous measures, which required mandatory quarantine upon arrival into the country.
Upon arrival and after passing all health screenings, healthy tourists must remain within the “COVID-19 resiliency corridor” spanning the northern coastline between Negril and Portland along the main road, according to Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Only hotels or cottages licensed by the Tourist Board Act are permitted to host guests during 15 to 30 June.
Non-Jamaican tourists who plan to travel outside of the approved tourist zone must be tested for COVID-19, and will be required to quarantine in their hotel room or intended address until test results come back. Tourists who test positive must remain in quarantine for the duration of their illness, either in their current place of shelter or at a government-designated facility.
How to get there
The cheapest flights begin at £608 round trip on Air Canada departing from London (LHR) with a stopover in Toronto (YYZ) and in Dublin (DUB) on the way back.
Where to Stay
Hilton’s Montego Bay all-inclusive resort, the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, as well as Hyatt’s all-inclusive properties Zilara Rose Hall and Hyatt Ziva, all reopen 1 July, with rates beginning around £240/night at each destination.
Related: Review of the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall
For example, If you wanted to stay at Hyatt’s Rose Hall all-inclusive it would be $295/night (about £233/night) or 25,000 World of Hyatt points/night.
Related: Reopening guide: country-by-country
Related: Reopening guide to the Caribbean
Hotels.com shows more than 1,200 hotels and guest properties on the island of Jamaica with availability during the first week of reopening, with more than 100 properties open in capital city Kingston alone. However, note that Kingston does not fall within the COVID-19 resiliency corridor designated by the government, so travellers visiting the capital city of Jamaica will have to quarantine in place until their coronavirus tests come back negative.
Most of the properties listed are guesthouses and similar housing, although major chain properties include Marriott hotels AC Hotel Kingston from $167/night (£132/night) or the Courtyard by Marriott Kingston from $205 (£162) per night. Notably, the Hyatt’s Kingston-based Trident Hotel is not yet booking guests.
Additional reporting by Clint Henderson.
Featured photo by David Neil Madden.