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Can Americans travel to Puerto Rico during the pandemic?

can americans travel to puerto rico
Photo via R9 Studios FL/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • Visitors ARE welcome to travel to the U.S. territory
  • The original reopening date in summer 2020 had to be postponed
  • Many attractions in Puerto Rico have limited capacity

As Puerto Rico climbs over 94,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,200 deaths, the U.S. territory’s borders remain open for essential travel. Before a recent spike in the coronavirus, visitors were welcomed as long as they complied with travel requirements, followed social distance guidelines, and wore masks in public. So, can Americans travel to Puerto Rico during the pandemic? The answer, for now, is yes.

But the government would rather you not if the trip is nonessential.

After reopening plans for July were delayed due to a spike in cases, the island, which is home to 3.2 million people, opened to tourism on Sept. 12. Public beaches, nature reserves, casinos, gyms, and movie theatres were allowed to welcome guests as long as they observe social distancing and limited indoor capacity guidelines. By December, though, beaches were open only for individual sports.

Those entering Puerto Rico can only leave the airport if they complete a travel declaration form provided by the Puerto Rico Health Department and submit proof of a negative molecular COVID-19 test result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel departure time. In that way, Puerto Rico’s restrictions aren’t much different than the new guidelines in Hawaii. Travelers to Puerto Rico who fail to comply with these guidelines will be forced to quarantine for 14 days or until they can provide a negative test result. 

“If you don’t want to be tested, stay home. Don’t come here and complicate our situation,” said Puerto Rico Health Secretary Lorenzo González to the Associated Press.

If you’re traveling to the islands via American Airlines, you can now have access to at-home testing through LetsGetChecked.

Upon completing the guidelines above, travelers will receive an airport exit confirmation number and a QR code permitting them to leave the airport. From there, visitors will experience an island with many protective measures still in place.  

Many hotels are open on the island with increased COVID-19 precautions. For example, the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico requires temperature checks and social distance measures and has installed UV light purifying air conditioners in all rooms. 

But by early December, as the rest of the U.S. saw record numbers of cases and deaths, Puerto Rico tightened its curfew restrictions and made Sundays a lockdown day.

Read more on traveling during the pandemic:

Sources: New York Times, Discover Puerto Rico, Afar.com 


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