Anguilla is proceeding cautiously towards the reopening of its borders to international travelers. Government-approved aircrafts, ships, vessels or boats used for the repatriation of Anguillian citizens to Anguilla and the departure of Anguillian and non-Anguillian citizens from Anguilla are now allowed to operate into the island’s air and sea ports of entry.
Anguilla has received praise for its efforts in combatting and containing the COVID-19 virus: The government acted rapidly and aggressively to contain the virus, with a widespread public education campaign, restrictions on social gatherings and closing the borders in mid-March. The government also launched a public/private sector collaboration, which provided a central space for all official news and updates related to COVID-19. As a result, the island experienced just three reported cases, two of which were imported, and all of whom have fully recovered. There were no fatalities and the island is now 60 days and counting without a new case.
Reopening borders inevitably brings the risk of new infections, and the government’s priority is to ensure that effective procedures are in place to identify, mitigate, contain and treat any suspected case, eliminating the possibility of community spread.
At this point, no definitive date for reopening the borders to commercial international travel has been announced; however, the government has outlined their measured approach to reopening, which will take place in phases:
Phase One is the repatriation of Anguillians overseas who need to return home. An online portal has been set up on the www.beatcovid19.ai platform to assist Anguillians abroad with the registration and screening requirements in order to effectively manage the repatriation process. With the help of the British government, Anguilla has acquired both the GenXpert and the Quanstudio PCR machines, along with testing kits, supplies and staff training, which has enabled the Health Authority of Anguilla to now accurately and quickly test for COVID-19. Guidelines for industry stakeholders, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, international and regional associators including the U.S. Travel Association, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Caribbean Public Health Agency and International Air Transport Association, are being circulated and implemented across all product sectors: Accommodations, transportation, attractions, retail and dining establishments.
In Phase Two, the administration will prepare to welcome paying guests; both travel advisors and stakeholders have indicated that there is demand for Anguilla, in particular from repeat guests who spend up to two months on island. The administration is also working on a number of touchless solutions, such as online immigration processing, virtual check-in and check-out at hotels, which will also be in effect as part of the travel safety protocols implemented on reopening.
Additional updates on the reopening of Anguilla’s borders and tourism sector will be issued in the coming weeks, once all travel safety protocols have been finalized.