Jamaica, a nation that has been used throughout 2020 as the very example of a successful tourism industry restart has suddenly imposed stricter rules for entry, starting March 4, 2021.
Prior to the new changes, only 5 countries worldwide needed to provide a test to enter Jamaica, but now all visitors coming from any nation will need proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter. The new testing rules for entry into Jamaica are being launched in a phased method to allow travelers who’ve already booked enough time to meet the new requirements.
Jamaica Now Requires Covid Testing For All Countries
Between March 4th and March 10th, visitors from ALL countries will need to provide a negative PCR or Antigen test, taken no more than 10 days prior to arrival.
After March 11th, visitors from ALL countries will need to provide a negative PCR or Antigen test, taken no more than 3 days prior to arrival. The Jamaican tourism board has launched a Test Date Calculator to make it easier for travelers to understand the 3-day timeframe.
Another change is being introduced for business travelers who may not be staying in the tourism corridor for business purposes, effective March 4, 2021. Business travelers will not only be subject to provide the negative PCR/antigen test to board the flight into Jamaica but will also be required to perform a PCR test upon arrival at their own expense.
Passengers younger than 12 years of age are exempt from all testing requirements.
Jamaica Had Been Leading Safe Tourism
Jamaica was one of the very first Caribbean countries to reopen for tourism in June 2020. Leading the way with their ‘tourism corridor’ areas that serve as a bubble between visitors and locals, they had been accepting over 100+ countries to visit without testing. Only 5 higher risk nations (defined as the USA, Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Brazil) required to bring proof of a negative test, taken within 10 days of arrival.
The extended 10-day time period to get a test was heavily favored with visitors from the USA, which is also Jamaica’s largest tourism market, enticing travelers to choose Jamaica over other Caribbean islands that had shorter time allowances or more strict testing policies.
Jamaica enjoyed over 8 months of successful tourism, without large case outbreaks due to incoming visitors. However, starting in February, case numbers have been steadily increasing to an all-time high. The spike is thought in part to be from traveling Jamaicans returning home, who before the new rules, did not have to provide tests and only had to undergo a 14-day home quarantine.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a press conference;
“We had great faith that our Jamaicans coming home would have this very high sense of patriotism and understand the pressure that our system would be under, if they were to behave in deviant ways from what we recommend as socially responsible in the pandemic. It has not always been the case that our travelling Jamaicans do this – certainly in the maintenance of the quarantine and it is having an impact on the numbers,”
“given where we are where, it is now a threat to lives…with this new spike…. we think it is now justified in these circumstances to require Jamaicans coming home to present a negative COVID-19 test.”
The new rules will now require that both Jamaican citizens and foreign arrivals show proof of a negative covid test before they can board their inbound flight. All passengers are still required to fill out the online Travel Authorization Form before departing into Jamaica.
A ban on flights from the UK due to variant concerns has also been extended until at least March 22, 2021.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories