Traveling to Antigua during a Pandemic
In early February, April and I visited Sandals Grande Antigua. Here is a little about our experience visiting another country during a Pandemic.
Antigua & Barbuda requires a negative PCR Covid test within 7 days of entering the country. April initially got her test on Monday at an urgent care center in MA. She did learn that insurance does not cover Covid tests for travel so she was required to pay for the test. This experience taught us that it is best to find a state lab as there is no charge for tests through those testing sites. I got my test on Tuesday at a RI state testing site and had no charge.
April was advised that her test result would be sent in 3-5 days. I was advised 48 hours. I had my test taken at 10:30 in the morning and much to my surprise, my negative results came back less than 12 hours later. April became concerned about not receiving her results in time when Wednesday came around. She decided to schedule a test at a MA state testing site and scheduled a second test for Thursday. She did receive her test results late on Wednesday night but chose to keep her second scheduled test because snow was predicted for Sunday and if our flight was delayed, her results would no longer be valid. Murphy’s law was averted as she had a second negative test result and our flight took off Sunday morning before the snow started. All was well.
Our test results were confirmed by the airline employees many times before we boarded our flight in Boston, again on the connecting flight from Miami to Barbuda. When we landed in Antigua, we needed two forms. A health questionnaire (we printed this from home and highly recommend doing so) and the immigration & customs form that the flight attendants provided. We recommend paying careful attention to the instructions of the flight attendants as this form can be confusing.
After leaving the plane, we entered the line to go through the health review, immigration, and then customs. The employees had us sanitize our hands many times during this process. We had our temperatures taken with a photo scanner, our health questionnaire and negative Covid test results reviewed and then the normal immigration procedures.
At the hotel, there were plenty of sanitizing stations and the Sandals employees continuously requested everyone to sanitize. Our suitcases were sanitized before being brough to our rooms. The policy on property is to wear a mask when you are inside, entering restaurants, and if you are around a lot of people outside. We felt very comfortable. The hotel was at a capacity of between 25-35% and there was plenty of open spaces to social distance from others. We spent a lot of time at a pool with no one else around.
Sandals is currently paying for the required Antigen testing to return to the US and that is performed on property. If you test positive (which is unlikely), then you would be notified within 30 minutes. If you are negative, you pick up your results the next morning. Sandals advised us what day to test and we called the nurse to make the appointment. The test is administered by a nurse.
When we returned to the airport to fly home, we had to present our test as soon as we entered the airport. Once that was verified, we entered our information into a kiosk to pay for our checked bags and get our boarding passes. Then we went to the ticket counter, had our bags weighed and were given our bag tags. We then brought our bags to the area for them to be scanned. I was selected for random additional security checks and my checked bag was reviewed.
I did not connect that search with a regular random security review but realized it when I was searched at the gate. The airline employees and all of the airport employees monitored all waiting to board planes to ensure that masks wee being worn and worn properly. I was called up to the counter at the gate about 10 minutes before boarding and was advised I was selected for a random security search. The security folks were very professional and very thorough. It took so long that I was actually the last person on the plane.
April and I were able to safely travel to Antigua and come back and felt very comfortable during our entire stay. Sandals has great Covid protocols.