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St. Lucia's Reopening Plan Might Predict the Future of Caribbean Vacations

To date, the mountainous Caribbean paradise of St. Lucia has recorded just 18 Covid-19 cases. Everyone has recovered, and the island wants to get back to business.

The problem for this family-friendly isle is that its biggest market, the United States, has the most viral cases on the planet. How can you get back to business if your main customer is so troubled?

St. Lucia's authorities have come up with a methodical plan, outlined in the infographic above. Set to kick off June 4, the plan covers everything from airport screenings to changes at resorts.

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Some of the measures, like temperature checks, are to be expected. 

Others, though, will be harder to meet given the state of American responsiveness. Here are some of the biggest snags:

• Every would-be visitor will be required to provide a "certified Covid-19 negative test" upon checking in for flights to the Caribbean (listed in the first step of the infographic). That test must be conducted "a maximum of 48 hours before their flight to Saint Lucia." In many parts of the United States, that simply isn't possible, which creates an obstacle to travel for many Americans.

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• St. Lucia will also require passengers to wear masks for the duration of their flights to the island. This, too, conflicts with typical onboard procedures at the moment, because some major U.S. carriers are not enforcing the usage of masks once a passenger sits down.

• Another interesting aspect of the response plan, outlined in step four, is that hotels will be required to furnish nurses' stations and "quarantine facilities" for customers who develop symptoms even after passing the temperature checks that will be applied on both ends of the air journey. Tourists will be required to pay for their own quarantines, albeit at "specially discounted rates," according to the guidance. This requirement might favor larger properties that can afford the space.

In order to be added to the phased reopening plan, hotels must be certified as compliant by the government. Visitors who want to stay at non-certified properties will be forced to quarantine for 14 days first.

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• For now, a St. Lucia vacation will mean a beach or walking vacation—there won't be much to do other than relax. Car rentals will not be available at first; this introductory phase requires the use of taxis or chauffeured transportation to get around.

Nor will any of the island's tourist sites and attractions be open yet—those are slated to return beginning in August.

Note that the plan applies only to air arrivals—the procedure for entering St. Lucia by cruise ship has not yet been addressed, presumably because most lines won't be sailing again for several months.

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You'll find the full rundown of the first phase of St. Lucia's reopening plan, including a larger version of the infographic above, at stlucia.org/covid-19.

Photo credit: Saint Lucia Tourism

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