What it's like traveling to Jamaica during the COVID Pandemic
If you follow me on Instagram @worldtravelista1 , then you know that I recently came back from a quick visit to Jamaica.
It was a somewhat last-minute trip, although I had been thinking of traveling to Jamaica for a couple of weeks. I booked on a Thursday and two days later I was on my way. At the time of booking, the Jamaican Govt only required four states in the US for a negative COVID test - NY, AZ, TX, and FL. Being that I live in Minnesota there was no testing requirement. And also Jamaica does not require a 14-day mandatory quarantine. So I was able to scratch my travel itch with a last minute booking. The Jamaican government does require an approved Travel Authorization. After answering some questions and inputting my traveling information, I was immediately approved. You can apply for the Travel Authorization on www.visitjamaica.com
*As of August 20th, Jamaica now requires a negative COVID test from residents of ALL 50 states of the US, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Brazil citizens.
When you are completing the Jamaican Travel Authorization, they highly recommend that you add the JAMCOVID app to your smartphone. Again, depending on what state you are from and how your health screening goes at the airport - they may ask you to check into the app and records stats such as your temp. But I would assume also that as it is on your smartphone they can geo-locate you for any needed contract tracing.
Normally you would check-in online or on an app with your airline 24hrs prior. Although if you are traveling to Jamaica, an airline agent must verify your approved Travel Authorization form. (I couldn't wait until the next morning, so I actually drove to the airport the day before so a Delta agent could verify. I really wanted to see my medallion upgrade opportunity as the day went on. ha!)
However once you do normally arrive at the airport, then the agent would confirm. In my case, I had a morning flight with a connection in Atlanta so I went through TSA like normal. And once I landed ATL, it was at that Montego Bay gate that all passengers had to present their Travel Authorization to the Gate Agent. The gate agent then marked a visible red check mark on the paper boarding pass, and then you were fine to wait in line to board.
Once we arrived Jamaica and started deplaning, one of the first airport health agents sprayed your hands with sanitizer. Then you proceeded down a short ramp, and another Jamaican health agent took your temperature and wrote it on a small piece of paper. Then in my case as I had purchased Club Mobay arrival services a representative greeted me there and we proceeded to a line for the required arrival health screening.
There were two lines for all airplane passengers to reach the health screening. I would like to say that the Club Mobay assistance saved me a lot of time, but I am not sure. The Club Mobay service is to help speed normally through customs, but in this case the health screening was a long wait. It was a Saturday arrival and I waited for two hours! We all had our masks on, but still the wait seemed rather excessive after traveling for a while.
Just prior to finally getting to the Health Screening you would then squirt another round of hand sanitizer. Once it was finally your turn, you would move forward to an open spot and sit down across from the Health Screener. They had full PPE mask and a shield on and asked several health questions: how long you would be in Jamaica, where you were staying, etc. Mainly the hard questions were inquiring which vaccines you've had - which it's really hard for me to remember, as I probably received all of those as a kid. And then also having the flu shot last fall.
As the Health Screener was completing, the advised me to stay at my resort and to not leave the property. (No problem for me!) They also provided me w a small card of phone numbers to contact if I became ill while in Jamaica or upon returning back to the States.
The screening itself took possibly 5 minutes, and then I was off to go through customs, immigration, and then on to my resort.
When I arrived back at the airport to fly back home, it was back to "normal"-ish times. No one took my temperature and there was no health screening. I did have the Club Mobay departures to help speed up, but there really was no long line for TSA. But I did enjoy spending some time in the Club Mobay lounge drinking a final Rum Punch.
All in all, the most challenging part for me was that long wait upon arrival for the health screening. I hear that the busiest time for arrivals is 11am-4pm. And I'm sure that arriving on a Saturday was a busy time too. But I knew that the reward would be getting to the resort and hearing that soothing ocean sound.
Jamaica still has a relatively low COVID infection rate. At the time that I booked, there was only 1,071 cases. I know it has gone up since then, and there's only one US state that currently has a lower infection number - Vermont. Masks were required in the airport and at my resort; and my resort had a very low occupancy rate - it was perfect for social distancing. I felt very comfortable traveling and relaxing there, and if the numbers keep low would definitely consider a return trip.