Saint Lucia outlines phased return of international tourism

A phased approach to re-opening the tourism sector in Saint Lucia in a “responsible manner” from June 4 has been signalled by the island’s government.

The strategy aims to protect tourists and residents from the threat of Covid-19 through a combination of advance testing; daily screening and monitoring of staff and visitors; sanitisation at various points throughout the travellers’ journey; and new social distancing protocols.

Only flights from the US will be will be allowed initially, with 1,500 hotel rooms being prepared to open in early June, pending completion of a new Covid-19 certification process.

Tourism minister Dominic Fedee revealed that the phased approach to re-opening, which continues until July 31, resulted from national task force consultations with industry stakeholders.

A second phase of the island’s new responsible approach to tourism will start on August 1, with details to be revealed in the weeks ahead.

The new procedures span from the hotel booking process to airport arrival and hotel experience in Saint Lucia.

Protocols include:

  • Visitors are required to present certified proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken within 48 hours of boarding their flight.
  • All travellers must continue the use of face masks and physical distancing on arrival.
  • Travellers will be subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities.
  • Protocols are being established for taxis, to provide safety precautions and separate the driver from guests as an added security measure.
  • Health and safety protocols will be reinforced through the use of signage that includes QR codes which take travellers to a landing page for more information.

The government is developing a Covid-19 certificate for hotels. Hotels must meet a dozen or more specific criteria for sanitisation, social distancing and other protocols before they will be permitted to open to guests.

The island has followed safety protocols recommended by the World Health Organisation and the Caribbean Public Health Agency since closing its borders to international arrivals on March 23.

It has collaborated with the local department of health and wellness, observed shelter-in-place guidelines, and created a Covid-19 task force to plan for a responsible re-opening.

Just 18 cases of the virus have been recorded on the island, and all individuals have fully recovered. No active cases are currently being investigated.

Fedee said: “Our new protocols have been carefully crafted and will build confidence among travellers and our citizens.

“The government of Saint Lucia remains resolved to protect both lives and livelihoods as it jump starts its economy.”

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