St. Martin and Saint Lucia announce plans to reopen

The Caribbean is well on its way to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, with St. Martin and Saint Lucia being the latest islands to announce reopening plans.

In St. Martin, the beach band has been lifted, allowing for swimming at sea given that gatherings remain less than 10 people.

Business (except for bars and restaurants) reopened on the French side on May 11, while the economic reopening plan on the Dutch side began a week later on May 18. On both sides of the island, all businesses are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Both French and Dutch governments have agreed to maintain a ‘Friendly Border Control’ in order to restrict non-essential movements.

Though beaches and businesses have reopened, gateways into the island remain closed to tourists. Regular flights at both Princess Juliana International Airport and Grand Case Airport are still not permitted, with only cargo and medical evacuation flights allowed to operate.

Inter-island ferry connections between Saint-Martin and the neighbouring islands of Anguilla and St. Barthelemy are suspended until further notice departing from the Maritime Station in Marigot. Also, cruise ships are not welcomed until further notice.

In Saint Lucia, a phased approach to reopening is being taken by the local government, beginning June 4.

Phase One includes welcoming international flights at Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) from the United States only. In anticipation of upcoming flights, some 1,500 hotel rooms on the island are being prepared to open in early June, pending completion of a new government-mandated COVID-19 certification process. This includes a dozen or more criteria for sanitization, social distancing and other protocols.

Phase Two will commence on Aug. 1, 2020 with details to be revealed in the coming weeks.

According to Saint Lucia’s Minister of Tourism Dominic Fedee, the new procedures span the entire tourist experience, from the hotel booking process to airport arrival and accommodations. Protocols include the following:

• Visitors are required to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding their flight

• Upon arrival in Saint Lucia, all travellers must continue the use of face masks and physical distancing

• Travellers will be subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities

• Protocols are being established for taxis to keep guests and the driver safe

• Health and safety protocols will be reinforced through the use of signage that includes QR codes