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Caribbean Resorts and Destinations Expand COVID-19 Restrictions

Top Caribbean hotels, resorts and destinations followed through with wider closures and shutdowns as COVID-19 spreads globally. The closures come as more destinations across the tourism-reliant region take action to prevent increasing their own coronavirus infection levels.

Two signature Caribbean resort operators were among the most recent COVID-19 victims. Nassau’s Baha Mar resort will suspend operations at 3 p.m. on March 25 until further notice, said company officials in a statement. “We will be working closely with our nation’s government to ensure that we do all we can to support our associates financially over the coming days,” said officials.

“As the global community grapples with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the safety, and well-being of our staff, partners, guests and citizens of The Bahamas are our top priority,” the statement adds.

“During this time, we will be working with reservation holders to refund or reschedule planned stays” at the properties three hotels, the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Rosewood Baha Mar and SLS Baha Mar. Officials are encouraging guests to “contact your travel professional or the resort directly.”

“The weeks ahead are sure to be trying,” the statement reads, “but we look forward with hope and anticipation to a time when we will welcome our guests and associates back to our property for the spectacular experiences we are known for around the world.”

Sandals Resorts will close its properties between March 30 and May 15, 2020 due to COVID-19, said Gordon “Butch” Stewart, the all-inclusive resort company’s chairman. Sandals operates 19 resort properties in Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos.

The firm’s Beaches Resorts properties will also close during the period, and the company will not accept new reservations beyond March 23. “Never could we have imagined the impact the current global health crisis would have on the world,” said Stewart.

“Now more than ever, the safety and health of our valued guests and team members is of paramount importance.” Stewart said the combination of “recent global travel warnings, coupled with airline carrier cancellations” led to the decision to close the resorts.

Stewart also pointed out that Caribbean destinations and tourism companies have frequently dealt with adversity and have proven their ability to rebound. “The Caribbean is resilient, said Stewart. “We have always come back better, stronger and more passionate than ever. We promise this time will be no exception.

He added, “Our team will be reaching out to you to assist with rescheduling your plans. This way, you can spend less time trying to reach us and more time with loved ones. We will take this time to make further enhancements to our resorts. Soon come back.”

Jamaica’s iconic luxury resort Half Moon also announced it would close temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions. “We recognize the need to do all we can to ensure the health and safety for our entire Half Moon family: guests, service professionals and community,” said company officials.

“Therefore, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the resort” through May 1, 2020, officials said. Half Moon’s reservations team and website however “remain open for bookings beyond this date range.”

“The company continues to liaise with the government on this situation,” officials add. “We are committed to reopening Half Moon as soon as it is prudent to do so.”

Destination Report

Several Caribbean countries, meanwhile, updated policies and enhanced preventative measures as the illness spread.

The Turks and Caicos has no confirmed coronavirus cases, said officials at the Ministry of Tourism and Tourist Board, yet still implemented new regulations that affect travel to the destination. All air and seaports have been closed and no visitors will be permitted to enter or transit through the Turks and Caicos for 21 days.

Turks and Caicos native and resident returning to the territory are exempt from the border closure, as are emergency, cargo and medical flights and ships. Residents will be required to self-quarantine upon their return.

Martinique has extended earlier-announced restrictions by closing Aimé Césaire International Airport to all international flights on March 23. The same regulations apply to the four other French overseas Caribbean islands of Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, Guadeloupe and French Guyana.

In addition Martinique’s hotels and villa rentals “are bringing their activities to a close, while waiting for the departure of their last guests,” Martinique Tourism Authority officials said. New guests will be prohibited and amenities including pools, spa and other activities have been closed.

Additionally, the Martinique Port Authority has halted all cruise calls scheduled for the season and “all maritime transportations are suspended.” Restaurants and bars across the country are closed, and public transportation, along with “all businesses” excepting supermarkets, banks and pharmacies are also closed.

Anguilla also announced a temporary border closure despite a lack of confirmed coronavirus cases. The country closed its air and seaports to “all passenger movements” for 14 days on March 20 “in light of the most recent global developments,” according to a joint statement from the island’s governor and premier.

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