The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded negative COVID-19 test requirements to all air passengers entering the United States. With the change to the COVID-19 entry by air requirements comes a lot of complications. Although the goal is to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it wasn't really the news someone in the travel industry and who loves to see the world wanted to hear. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but read on to find out more.
Updated COVID-19 Entry by Air Requirements
CDC COVID-19 entry by air requirements have been expanded to require all air passengers entering the United States to provide a negative COVID-19 test.
According to a January 12, 2021 CDC press release (found here), "testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19". Now, before departure to the United States, travelers must obtain and present a negative COVID-19 test result. The CDC also recommends testing again 3-5 days after arrival in the U.S. and to quarantine for seven days post travel. One goal is to detect positive cases before a traveler boards the plane.
Testing Requirement Details
- A viral test will be required within three days before the flight to the U.S. departs
- Written documentation of test results (either paper or electronic) will need to be provided to the airline
- Documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 will also be acceptable
- Airlines must confirm a negative result or documentation of recovery before the passenger is allowed to board
- The airline is required to deny boarding if the passenger is unable or unwilling to provide the necessary documentation
- EFFECTIVE January 26, 2021
What Does it Mean?
While the goal is to help limit spread, the expansion of the COVID-19 entry by air requirements will undoubtedly throw a wrench into the plans of those who are set to travel outside of the country after January 26th. Plans may be cancelled due to fear of being stranded in a foreign country. As a result, countries who depend on tourism as their primary gross domestic product will be crippled even more than they already are.
The CDC hopes that the new requirements will help slow the spread of the virus while the U.S. continues to work on providing vaccinations to those who choose to get it. There are rumors that some countries may be eligible for waivers to the requirements, but this has not yet been verified. This post will be updated as more information is available.
The Good News
The good news is, the travel industry is working tirelessly to ensure this requirement is achievable smoothly and conveniently. Updates and procedures will be included on this page as they become available.
On the "look on the bright side" front, this hit to the travel industry can give you time to save up for when travel makes its big comeback--you know, when we get back to "normal". In the meantime, check out 16 Ways You Can Afford to Travel. You might as well...who knows, you may have enough time to save for that African safari or cruise to Antarctica by the time things start to turn around. Ah well, it is what it is and we have to do what we have to do, right?
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Are tests available? Is insurance available? Are extended stays available?
I have some excellent news! AMResorts, a fast growing luxury leisure company with upscale resorts located throughout Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic has stepped up to the plate!
According to this email sent to travelers, AMResorts is going above and beyond to help put their clients to ease. The family of resorts will include COVID-19 antigen testing on-property at no cost to guests traveling to the U.S. Even beyond that, the email states that "if a guest receives a positive test while on property that prevents departure, the cost of quarantine at the property will be covered for up to 14 days". This includes the guest companion sharing the same room. Wow!
AMResorts include resort names such as Dreams, Now, Breathless, Secrets, Zoetry, Refelect, Sunscape, an Alua.
More updates to follow.
More good news for all you daring travelers out there! Although Europe and other destinations seem to be more difficult and a further out as far as tourism goes, several Caribbean destinations are ready to handle the new requirement like champs. Here is updated information regarding changes to the COVID-19 entry by air requirements expansion:
Because visitors to the Bahamas who stay longer than four nights are already required to take rapid antigen tests on the fifth day of their stay, the islands are pretty prepared to make the transition.
Aruba has also stated that all necessary facilities and procedures are in place to meet the requirements for reentry into the U.S. Average turnaround time is 24 hours and most of the testing areas are located near hotels.
The government of this island destination stated that it is ready to provide testing within the requisite time. Saint Lucia also currently boasts 18 hotels/resorts that offer complimentary antigen testing for qualifying guests. Guests can make appointments for test upon arrival on the island or through a COVID-certified hotel/resort. More information can be found at www.StLucia.org/COVID-19.
The hotels/resorts currently offering complimentary COVID-19 rapid testing are:
- Anse Chastanet
- Bay Gardents Properties
- Calabash Cove Resort and Spa
- Caille Blanc Villa an Hotel
- Cap Maison Resort and Spa
- Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa
- Jade Mountain
- Ladera Resort
- Marigot Bay Resort and Marina
- Sandals Resorts in Saint Lucia
- Serenity at Coconut Bay
- Sugar Beach
- Stonefield Villa Resort
- Ti Kay Resort and Spa
The following resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean will also offer some testing and/or accommodations as response to the CDC COVID-19 entry by air requirements:
- Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts - Onsite COVID-19 testing at no cost to guests traveling to the U.S. (up to two guests per room). Results in 30 minutes and the resort will also cover the cost of quarantine for up to 14 days at no cost for up to two guest per room (if both guests test positive).
- Karisma Hotels and Resorts - All Karisma properties in the Riviera Maya area of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica offer complimentary on-site testing as of January 26th. Quarantine accommodations will be provided until a doctor certifies clearance for travel, or up to 14 days.
- AMResorts - See the 1/14/2021 update for AMResorts.
- Palladium Hotel Group - COVID-19 testing is available (at cost) and the results will be available within 72 hours. Palladium does have free medical care insurance in its Stay Safe Plus plan. Palladium has 48 hotels throughout Spain, Mexico, DR, Jamaica, Italy, and Brazil. Brands include TRS Hotels, Grand Palladium Hotels/Resorts, Palladium Hotels, Palladium Boutique Hotels, Fiesta Hotels/Resorts, Ushuaia Unexpected Hotels, Ayre Hoteles, Only YOU Hotels, Bless Collection Hotels, and Hard Rock Hotels (Ibiza and Tenerife).
- Iberostar - COVID-19 PCR tests offered at no charge for those showing symptoms. The company is offering extended stay of up to 10 days at no cost, and then a discounted rate if necessary. If guest have to leave early, a full refund for the dates not used will be provided. Iberostar has applicable properties in Brazil, Cuba, DR, Jamaica, and Mexico.
- Haven Resorts and Spas - Complimentary on-property Antigen testing is available for guest traveling to the U.S. or Canada. Guests are to register upon arrival and the tests are available Monday-Friday on a first-come, first-serve basis. Results are available in 30 minutes. If there is a positive test result, special rates will be made available for the individual plus one companion sharing the same room. Haven is located between Cancun and Riviera Maya.
More updates to follow.
Several more destinations and resorts have been added to the list of those who are taking action in reponse to the CDC COVID-19 entry by air requirements (be sure to check directly with each resort for exact details and to ensure up-to-date information):
- Hard Rock/Unico/Nobu Hotels - offering two complimentary tests per room for those traveling between January 26 and February 28. Additional tests are $50 per person. Medical assistance will be provided if needed and a complimentary insurance policy will help cover the cost of an extended stay up to ten days.
- Blue Diamond (Royalton/Planet Hollywood) - antigen tests are free in resorts located in Cancun, Punta Cana, and Jamaica. The tests are $150-200 in Saint Lucia an Antigua. For travel dates January 26 through March 31. Insurance will also be provided and extended stay covered for up to 14 days.
- Couples Resorts - free antigen testing from January 26 to a to be determined date. An extended stay of up to 14 days is possible.
- Palace Resorts - two complimentary tests per room with additional tests costing $19 per person. Dates are January 26 to a to be determined date. Up to two guests would be covered for an extended stay up to 14 days.
- Le Blanc Spa Resorts - two complimentary tests per room with additional tests costing $19 per person. Dates are January 26 to a to be determined date. Up to two guests would be covered for an extended stay up to 14 days.
- Playa Resorts - free antigen tests for a minimum of three nights in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Free antigen tests for a minimum of five nights in Jamaica. Otherwise, $49 per person. Dates are from January 22 through April 30. Extended stays of up to 14 days will be available at 50% off.
- The Excellence Collection - offering free antigen tests from January 23 through February 28. Guests' extended stay may be covered for up to 14 days.
- Sandos Hotels and Resorts - antigen tests from $50 per person from January 26 to a to be determined date.
- Desire Resorts - antigen tests are free for those staying three nights or more, otherwise, $50 per person. Dates from January 26 through a to be determined date.
- Marival Resorts - free tests for three nights or more stay. January 26 to a to be determined date. Extended stay may be available for up to 14 days.
- Live Aqua/Grand Fiesta Resorts - free antigen tests from January 26 to a to be determined date. Insurance is available for $4 per night. If an insurance policy is purchased, extended stay nights would be $10 per person/night after insurance benefit.
- RIU Hotels and Resorts - free antigen tests from January 26 through March 31. Extended stay of up to 10 days is available.
- Majestic Resorts - antigen tests are $30 per person in Punta Cana and $50 per person in Mexico. January 26 through April 30. Insurance is available and extended stays of up to 10 days are covered.
- Tierra Magnifica - offers vacation packages that cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and mandatory travel insurance for stays 10 days or longer.
- Omni Cancun Hotel and Villas - tests for $30 per person from January 26 to a date to be determined.
- Hotel NYX Cancun - tests for $55 per person from January 26 to a date to be determined.
- Temptation/Desire Resorts - free antigen test for stays three nights or more, otherwise $50 per person. January 26 to a date to be determined.
- Riviera Maya
- Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya - $33 per person from January 23 to a date to be determined.
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya - $64 per person from January 26 to a date to be determined. 20% off regular room rate offered if extended stay is necessary.
- Hotel Xcaret Mexico - free testing and extended stay covered for up to 14 days. Valid January 26 through March 31.
- Coyaba Beach Resort - antigen tests $150 per person from January 26 to a date to be determined.
- True Blue Bay Boutique Resort and Villas - antigen tests $150 per person from January 26 to a date to be determined.
- Saint Lucia
- Calabash Cove St. Lucia - free for stays seven nights or more, otherwise $100 per person. From January 26 through a date to be determined.
- Ladera Resort - free antigen tests from January 26 to a date to be determined. Extended stay options available.
- Marigot Bay Resort and Marina - free antigen tests from January 14 to a date to be determined.
- Ti Kaye and Spa - free tests for stays three nights or longer. From January 26 to a date to be determined.
- Turks and Caicos
- Seven Stars Resort Turks and Caicos - free antigen testing from January 26 to a date to be determined.
- St. Maarten/St. Martin
- Sonesta Resorts - antigen tests are $55 per person but guests can also use resort credits if they would prefer. From January 26 to a date to be determined. Guest must purchase insurance prior to arrival and insurance will cover extended stays.
- Grand Hyatt Baha Mar - on-site RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests available. Discounted rates available through a "Safe Travels" package. RT-PCR tests are $134.40 and results available in six hours or less. Rapid antigen tests are $16.80 and results available in 60 minutes or less.
Bonaire has recently opened back up for North American travelers. Visitors will be able to take COVID-19 tests on the island in accordance with the CDC entry requirements but no other information available at this time.
- The Westin - travelers can take a PCR test in their hotel room for $150 (plus tax), or at a hospital, five minutes from the resort for $113 (plus tax). Special rates are available in the instance that a traveler tests positive and will need to quarantine.
- La Coleccion Resorts (properties in Mexico and Dominican Republic), is providing free, on-site antigen testing. Through their "Travel with Confidence" program, travelers will have full coverage of accidents or illnesses, including Covid-19. Telehealth assistance for up to 72 hours and hotel expenses if a person tests positive will be covered if a $4 per night insurance plan is purchased. Additionally, if the insurance is purchased, guests will be offered extended stay while they recover and quarantine at $10 per night, per person.
- Montage Los Cabos - free rapid antigen testing with a two hour turnaround time is available.
- Punta Mita/Riviera Nayarit - On on-site hospital (Hospital Punta Mita) is offering PCR and antigen tests at $185 and $63, respectively.
- Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel and Romantic Getaway - Appointments can be made for on-site testing or at one of four locations around the destination. Price for a PCR test is $152 per person.
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