Pandemic Travel: Caribbean Edition
By Sophie Jin
The global COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for almost two years. Without a doubt, there are many individuals that are missing traveling and going on vacation. And with the pandemic, there are many restrictions for each country when entering.
The U.S. is slowly opening travel restrictions and has opened its borders to foreign citizens that are fully vaccinated. In addition, travelers and visitors must get negative COVID-19 tests three days before their travel.
There are other countries that are opening up to U.S. travelers, such as Austria, Canada, France, South Korea, and Spain. There are many others that have also opened up to U.S. travelers; however, there are still COVID-19 restrictions and mandatory governmental quarantine when entering.
One country, however, has a unique restriction that depends on how much a person annually earns. This country is the Caribbean, more specifically the island of Montserrat. Montserrat, which is known for its volcanic activities, has around 5,000 residents currently living on the island. Though the island has opened up and travelers will be able to visit, they must pay $70,000 to enter the island.
With the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases around the world, Montserrat decided to open its island to travelers that can pay the amount and stay for at least two months. As of last month, only 24 travelers have entered the island and met the requirements to stay. This decision was made to reduce the number of travelers and visitors coming to the island.
According to the Ministry of Health, 33 individuals have tested positive as of September 15th, and one person’s case has been fatal. If the island opens up entirely, this can create undue risk to the islanders and cause an increase in COVID-19 cases.
In addition to the COVID-19 cases, only a quarter of the residents on the island are vaccinated; thus, a large number of travelers in contact with the residents could be disastrous if travelers test positive. When visitors meet the requirements, they will be able to go to Montserrat’s beaches, enjoy the warm weather, and most importantly, relax.
However, there are mixed feelings with both the residents and travelers about the $70,000 plan. Some residents stated that the amount was too high, but that it is good to prevent COVID-19 cases.
The island, which is still recovering from volcanic activity back in February 2010, lost two-thirds of its population after the incident. The territory closed back in March 2020 and restricted travelers from coming to the island. The island reopened partially in April 2021.
Starting October 1, all visitors, whether or not they are vaccinated, are allowed to come to the island. A five-day quarantine and COVID-19 PCR are still required for visitors once arriving on the island. Hopefully more visitors will be able to go to Montserrat soon so that the travel economy of the Caribbean can get back on its feet!