As the epidemiological scenario continues to improve and Omicron seems to have been controlled, Jamaica is relaxing some of the restrictions which had been imposed across the island in late 2021 to fight the variant. Besides reducing curfew hours, the country has now scrapped its travel authorization form and seemingly quarantine requirements.
In an announcement made on February 22, the Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed foreigners traveling to Jamaica for tourism, including American and Canadian citizens, will no longer need to complete the travel authorization form in advance or quarantine. Due to come into effect on March 1, the measure will further de-bureaucratize entry rules.
Travel Form, Quarantine No Longer Needed
Throughout most of the pandemic, tourists visiting Jamaica were subjected to strict rules, including pre-departure testing and mandatory quarantine when unvaccinated and staying outside a government-designated “resilient corridor“. The requirements are part of the package of measures introduced in the Disaster Risk Management Act.
While it sought to stabilize Covid figures across Jamaica, they made it more difficult for the local tourism industry to recover. Instead of flying to Kingston for their long-awaited sunny break, millions of travelers have instead opted for other Caribbean competitors like Mexico, which have facilitated entry programs and have no Covid restrictions in place.
At the moment, travelers must apply to travel to Jamaica through the official Visit Jamaica website. During the application process, they are required to provide information relating to their health status and travel details. Once the form is reviewed by Jamaican officials and a traveler is “approved”, they will usually receive an “authorization code” to present during check-in.
However, now that the Omicron wave has peaked, Jamaica seems more confident in dropping the guard. As reported by the Jamaica Observer, the government will officially lift both the authorization form, and travel-related quarantine, meaning it will be far simpler to visit the island nation.
What Could Change From March 1 For Visitors To Jamaica?
Here is a summary of the changes expected in Jamaica:
- Curfew hours will start at midnight and end at 5 a.m. (from February 25 up to March 17);
- Maximum attendance at events raised from 50 to 100;
- Travel authorization removed (from March 1);
- End of travel-related quarantine requirements (more information to come).
Previously, Jamaica had already exempted vaccinated tourists from quarantining once leaving a travel corridor, while the unvaccinated have not been so lucky. Thus, this particular announcement has raised doubts on whether non-immunized individuals are now also able to bypass quarantine when visiting, or this refers to other situations and/or categories of travelers.
Currently, when not remaining within a “resilient corridor”, Americans who are not vaccinated could be tested on arrival and are routinely issued a quarantine order for 14 days, regardless of having presented a negative test at the point of entry. So far, all that has been announced is that travel-related quarantine will be “eliminated“.
On the other hand, Holness has reminded travelers that pre-departure testing, which should be conducted three days before traveling, will most likely remain in place once the new revised guidelines are published in March. Both RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests are accepted for travel to the country, as confirmed by the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica.
While It Will Likely Remain In Place, Testing Requirement Is Also Being Reviewed
Recently, the World Health Organization urged all countries to avoid placing a financial burden on travelers through extensive testing regimes. Acknowledging that pre-departure testing is “becoming more difficult and expensive in some jurisdictions”, the Prime Minister reassured the public the government is currently reviewing the requirement and deciding on whether to keep it for longer or “modify it”.
The Jamaica Hotel And Tourism Association (JHTA) has backed the government’s decision to loosen restrictions, and particularly quarantine, calling it a “step in the right direction”. While Holness plans to remove quarantine mandates, those who have traveled are still advised to remain vigilant and quarantine for at least five days after arrival, though that may no longer be mandatory.
Even though travel-related quarantine will be reportedly removed, we do not yet have more information concerning the revised requirements, or whether unvaccinated visitors can now expect to skip quarantine when leaving a tourist corridor. We should know more once the new measures are published on the relevant pages.
Testing Requirements for Jamaica
All visitors entering Jamaica will still need to provide a negative PCR or antigen test, performed no longer than 3-days before entry.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com