The Caribbean paradise of Saint Lucia is entering a phased approach for the reopening of the island’s tourism industry starting June 4, 2020.
The country is doing so “in a responsible fashion,” with Minister of Tourism Dominic Fedee outlining the strategy targeted at protecting residents and visitors from the threats of COVID-19.
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Precautionary measures include testing visitors in advance, conducting daily screening and observation of workers and tourists, sterilizing at multiple points throughout the travel process, and new physical distancing requirements.
The first phase of the reopening strategy involves permitting the return of international flights at the Hewanorra International Airport (UVF), but only from the United States to start.
Travellers are suggested to consult airlines about flight schedules and protocols before booking, Saint Lucia’s government website explains.
“In anticipation of these first visitors, some 1,500 hotel rooms in Saint Lucia are being prepared to open in early June, pending completion of a new COVID-19 certification process.”
Saint Lucia closed its borders on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The country then implemented strict safety protocols adhering to advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency, and local government agencies as a means of setting itself up appropriately for a comprehensive reopening strategy, once such measures were permitted.
According to Minister Fedee, the phased reopening will continue through July 31 and was a collaboration between local authorities, travel industry stakeholders, and the national COVID-19 Task Force.
Travellers will be required to follow various requirements throughout the travel process, from booking to arriving at the airport and their accommodation in Saint Lucia.
Such measures include the following:
- Travellers must be able to present authenticated proof that they have tested negative for coronavirus within 48 hours of boarding their flight.
- They must wear facial coverings and follow physical distancing guidelines once they arrive in Saint Lucia.
- Travellers will be required to participate in screening and temperature checks by port health authorities.
Measures to ensure the health and safety of operators and travellers regarding ground travel, such as taxis, will be enforced through the utilization of signage, including QR codes, which will transport users to a landing page supplying more information.
To further ensure the health and safety of residents, staff, and visitors, the government of Saint Lucia is forming a COVID-19 Certificate for accommodation establishments. Through this initiative, hotels, resorts, and other accommodations must meet several specified criteria for sterilization and cleanliness, physical distancing, and other coronavirus-related protocols before they are allowed to reopen for guests.
Phase 1 will permit traditional experiences and excursions, albeit at a limited capacity.
“Our new protocols have been carefully crafted and will build confidence among travellers and our citizens,” Fedee explains. “The Government of Saint Lucia remains resolved to protect both lives and livelihoods as it jumpstarts its economy.”
Phase 2 of the reopening strategy to international travellers will begin on August 1, 2020. More details regarding this stage will be disclosed in the coming weeks.