This is a developing story. For the latest information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
On July 15, Puerto Rico will join a growing list of Caribbean islands that are welcoming back nonessential travelers. Technically, Puerto Rico, an unincorporated U.S. territory, never closed its borders to U.S. citizens or foreign nationals who hadn’t been in China, Iran, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, or the European Shengen area in the previous 14 days. But a mandatory 14-day quarantine order for anyone flying into Puerto Rico, along with other strict lockdown measures, meant that travelers were discouraged from coming to the island.
On Tuesday, June 30, Puerto Rico’s governor Wanda Vázquez announced that from July 15, travelers who can produce negative COVID-19 test results obtained 72 hours prior to arrival will no longer be required to quarantine.
As of June 30, there have been 7,465 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 153 resulting deaths in Puerto Rico, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Here’s what people can expect when traveling to Puerto Rico on or after July 15.
What kind of safety protocols are being put in place in Puerto Rico?
In addition to completing a travel declaration form provided by the Puerto Rico Health Department, those who enter Puerto Rico on or after July 15 will be required to provide proof of negative molecular tests (nasal or throat swabs) from 72 hours prior. The government will not accept any other type of test, including the antibody ones that require a finger stick or blood drawn.
Arriving passengers who do not have test results available, refuse to submit to testing upon arrival, or test positive will be required to quarantine for 14 days and cover their own medical and extended stay expenses. Those who wish to be released from quarantine will have to undergo a molecular test and share the negative results with the government, Puerto Rico health secretary Lorenzo González told the Associated Press.
“If you don’t want to be tested, stay home. Don’t come here and complicate our situation,” he said.
Those who can produce negative test results upon arrival will be allowed into Puerto Rico, but they will need to follow locally mandated rules, including wearing face masks when in public, in taxis, and in hotels. Social distancing is being enforced by limiting capacity to 75 percent at restaurants, museums, spas, and theaters.
What flights to Puerto Rico are available?
Because Puerto Rico never closed its borders, airlines continued to fly to and from the island. However, in order to better track people arriving in Puerto Rico, flights were only allowed in and out of San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Both Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla (BQN) and the Mercedita International Airport in Ponce (PSE) are set to reopen on July 6, 2020, according to Puerto Rico’s destination marketing organization. In addition to relaunching service into those two airports in July, JetBlue also announced it is adding a new route between Philadelphia and San Juan starting August 6, 2020.
Currently, 10 airlines are flying to Puerto Rico from the United States, and flights are much cheaper than they were in 2019. According to Hopper’s International Summer Travel Outlook 2020, average round-trip airfare from the United States to San Juan is $274, which is 33 percent lower than 2019 prices.
What else will be open in Puerto Rico?
An island-wide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. was recently extended through July 22, 2020, with exceptions only made for emergencies. However, beaches have reopened for sunbathing and other activities as long as those who gather are limited to groups from the same household. Hotel pools have reopened as long as they remain at 25 percent capacity, while capacity at restaurants in Puerto Rico was recently expanded to 75 percent. Casinos will reopen on July 1 at 75 percent capacity, with temperature checks and hand sanitation stations at points of entry. Retail shops and malls are also open, as long as you make appointments beforehand (that is, no strolling or window browsing is permitted for now).
Which hotels will be open?
Many hotels in Puerto Rico stayed open throughout the pandemic for displaced travelers and frontline workers and reopened to local leisure travelers starting in June.
The Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico reopened for nonessential stays on June 2. In addition to requiring temperature checks and social-distancing measures like touchless check-in and check-out services per Hyatt’s Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment, Hyatt also installed UV light purifying air conditioners in all 579 rooms on the property.
Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve will reopen on July 1, 2020. The mostly open-air property is set right on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, a 35-minute drive from San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Many of the hotel’s 115 guest rooms come with direct beach access and private plunge pools, making it easier to social distance and limit indoor interactions with other guests. As a Marriott property, Dorado Beach is following health and safety protocols in accordance with Marriott’s Global Cleanliness Council. A Stay Longer, Experience More package is offering 20 percent off for stays of five nights or longer.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Hotels we write about are independently vetted and recommended by our editors. AFAR may earn a commission if you book through our links, which helps support our independent publication.