Aruba, like the rest of the world, has been hit hard by the Coronavirus outbreak, but you can’t keep such a happy island down for long and Aruba is starting to open up and welcome visitors once again!
Aruba is one of my favourite places in the Caribbean and I am really excited to see this amazing, happy little island starting to get back to normal again.
Now that the world is gaining some control over the Coronavirus outbreak, Aruba has announced it’s opening dates for different parts of the world, it is still staged to allow a gradual return to normality and to of course ensure the safety of travellers too, but it is reopening and that is what is important!
Aruba’s reopening will happen in phases to keep things as safe and controlled as possible, and will have different dates for different regions.
- Bonaire and Curacao will be open from June 15 2020.
- The Caribbean (Excluding the Dominican Republic & Haiti) will be open from July 1st 2020.
- Europe and Canada will be open from July 1st 2020.
- The USA will be open from July 10th 2020.
- All other countries and territories will be opening in the coming weeks and months. Check the tourism board homepage for up to date news.
New entry requirements.
Although Aruba is relatively a relatively safe and low risk destination, a part of keeping it that way is taking steps to minimise risk as much as possible. Like most destinations, travellers to Aruba will unfortunately have to face more stringent entry requirements for the near future at least. These are subject to regular change without warning so it is always a good idea to check the official site before you travel, but for now these are the new mandatory procedures travellers can expect.
- You will have to complete an online embarkation/disembarkation card before you fly. This is actually a huge improvement as you can do it from home before you leave and saves messing around with a pen and a form on the plane, which removes one more contact point for infection control too.
- You will receive an approval of travel email after filling in the ED form above, and will need to show the digital or a printed copy of this on arrival and check in.
- You will need to fill in a self declaration health form and will receive an email reminder 72 hours prior to your arrival to do so. Largely pointless admin but hardly the end of the world.
- Unfortunately Aruba is also currently requiring confirmation of a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. You are encouraged to get one done privately before you travel or pre pay for one to be done on arrival into Aruba, where you will also be required to quarantine until you get the results which unfortunately can take days, and will require full quarantine if you test positive.
Keeping travellers safe.
In general terms worldwide travel is becoming increasingly safer by the day. Aruba itself is relatively safe with a low numbers of cases and stringent infection control measures, and although some level of risk does still exist for COVID 19, it is becoming far more manageable for the average traveller to the point that normal travel is starting to open up again. That doesn’t mean however that precautions shouldn’t be taken, and Aruba is doing everything it possibly can to reduce the risk of infection across the island. To keep travellers as safe as possible as things continue to improve, the Aruba Tourism Authority and the Department of Public Health have introduced a new ‘Aruba Health and Happiness Code‘.
This is a new certification programme applied to all local tourism operators, hotels, restaurants, retail and any business travellers are likely to use to reassure travellers that every place they visit is safe and clean. To get the required certification, each business will have to show that they are meeting strict health and safety and infection control procedures to minimise the spread of not just COVID19, but any other common illness with a similar transmission route, including diarrhoea and vomiting.
This seal will be visible prominently on all business property as well as having individual businesses listed online to ensure transparency.
These measures, dependent of course on the specific type of organisation implementing them (a taxi will obviously have different needs to a restaurant) will follow department of health and WHO guidelines and include:
- The wiping down and disinfection of all surfaces and regular touch points.
- Elevated cleaning procedures.
- Temperature screening at entrances.
- On site medical professionals.
- Social distancing markers.
- Additional shields and safeguards.
- Mandatory PPE training for staff.
These are obviously general guidelines and individual business are also taking it upon themselves to do even more to reduce the risk as much as possible.
Aruba Sunset Beach Studios is an awesome place to stay in Aruba, and they have taken a lot of steps to ensure they are complaint with Aruba’s new Health and Happiness code, but have also introduced contactless check in and protective screens in the front desk, more spacing in the garden and pool areas and have upgraded their housekeeping and infection control guidelines! On top of that they are also giving discounts of up to 25% for anyone travelling now and 15 % between August and September, as well as a flexible cancellation policy just in case situations change. This is why I love Sunset Beach, as well as being an awesome place to stay they really do care about their guests, and allowing this level of flexibility is so important to travellers when there is so much uncertainty about, that is why I urge travellers to repay the kindness and support these businesses as things return to normal.
And if you want an awesome, healthy smoothie while you are social distancing, check out Eduardo’s Beach Shack who are now offering a safe, socially distanced pick up and delivery service between 0800 and 1400 for those who are self isolating or simply choosing to minimise contact. They have upgraded their sanitisation procedures for all staff and you HAVE to try the acai berry smoothie!
The Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort are cleaning and sanitising each room before guests arrive and sealing them until they are used, and since contaminated surfaces are one of the biggest sources of route transmission they have made the check in process and guest stay as touch free as possible.
Divi Resorts’ new Clean Check programme provides enhanced hygiene standards and health and safety measures at all its four Aruba properties. Clean Check symbols will be seen throughout the resorts, from unit door seals confirming a room is ready for occupancy to signage with helpful distancing and sanitation guidelines.
Manchebo Beach Resort has increased staff training on infection control and increased the cleaning frequency of all guest areas, especially frequent touch points like handles, front desk services and public toilets, and has placed hand sanitizers throughout the resort. And as an extra bonus for traveller’s reassurance it has even upgraded its travel flexibility policy to allow travellers to book and cancel with up to 24 hours notice, which as I said before I really can’t stress enough is the mark of a brand really looking after travellers with things so currently changeable.
Boardwalk Boutique Hotel, has already reopened and welcomed guests through its doors. Standalone and semi standalone casitas, the private areas of the pool, no elevators or shared staircases and dedicated beach are already perfect for social distancing and ensuring that your accommodation is relatively self contained, but they have also implemented a health and safety plan specific to this crisis to keep guests safe. Housekeeping procedures have been elevated with increased infection control efforts, sanitising stations have been made available in all public areas, the seating areas at the pool have been separated, sanitised and have to be reserved in advance, check in and check out has been shifted online, with a mobile key to access the property, and as a gated property, only guests and staff are allowed access. With each casita offering it’s own kitchen and grocery delivery available, you can self isolate and keep yourself contained as much as you want to as well.
Like other properties, the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort has also focused on increased sanitation procedures and staff training.
You can do your part too.
Aruba is doing all it can to ensure risk to travellers is minimised as much as possible and to make sure that your travels through this amazing island are as safe and healthy as they can be, and as a qualified nurse I can tell you they really are managing infection control extremely well.
But you have to do your part too.
As much as the authorities and businesses in Aruba are doing as much as they can, travel health and hygiene is all about personal responsibility. It is all about the steps YOU take to keep yourself safe from infection. That’s how I as a qualified nurse look after my own health, because at the end of the day your health is your responsibility and as good as everyone else’s cleaning procedures may be, only you can be 100% sure that the steps you take are good enough.
The best way to reduce the risk of becoming infected with any virus, bacteria or germs is to be clean and hygienic yourself. And it isn’t just COVID 19, cholera, shigella (bacillary dysentery), diarrhoea, cryptosporidium and many more can be passed either directly or indirectly via the faecal oral route. And yes, that is exactly what it sounds like.
I know this sounds like common sense and I am sure you hold yourself to some pretty high standards, the problem is trusting everyone else to do the same, and it is safer to assume most people just don’t have the best hygiene standards.
How many people lick their fingers when reading a book, touch dirty surfaces all day or don’t wash their hands after using the toilet or before handling food? When was the last time you wiped and cleaned your phone? I have been the infection control lead and spent some time on infectious disease units in my previous career and even in that environment we had to remind visitors about the absolute basics before they could even enter!
This is why taking responsibility for your own health and hygiene is so important. If you do that, if you break the route of transmission to yourself with your own actions, it matters a lot less what other people do.
Seriously, if everyone was better at personal hygiene every single day COVID 19 would not have been declared a pandemic and we wouldn’t have a ‘flu season’ of Influenza every year.
So how do you maintain a strong personal hygiene regime?
- Wash your hands. Often. All the time. This is seriously the most important thing you can do to break the route of infection.
- When you can’t wash your hands use alcohol gel in between.
- Wipe down all the surfaces of your personal screens, phones, laptops and tech regularly.
- Don’t just rely on cleaning staff, wipe down surfaces you will have to touch for an extended period of time too such as your plane TV screen or tray table, hotel TV remote or anything that may harbour germs.
- Don’t be paranoid or overly worried, but just be aware of what you are touching when out and about. If you need to take public transport and are touching handrails or ticket machines a lot, try to wash your hands as soon as possible afterwards and avoid touching your face in the meantime. Remember that route of transmission!
- Stay socially aware. Now this doesn’t mean slavishly stick to 2 metres away from everyone at all times, you have to use your common sense judgement here. That rule is designed to avoid the spread of germs through coughing and sneezing, so passing someone on the street or sitting at a half full restaurant is very likely to be safe providing the waiter doesn’t sneeze cough or spit all over you, but staying all day in a packed out confined space raises your risk. Just use your common sense.
- At the moment Aruba has very sensibly not gone down the route of enforcing mandatory face masks. If you want to wear one, fine, but it is hardly necessary.
Aruba is as safe as you make it.
The threat of COVID19 is declining on a daily basis, and world travel is starting to open up again as that risk declines. Aruba is as safe a destination as you can get, it is taking every reasonable precaution that it can to make your visit as safe and risk free as possible, and it is up to you to do the same. If you do there is no reason at all why you can’t visit Aruba and have an awesome, safe, clean and healthy time.
I personally cannot wait to get back to Aruba again! I had the best time on this happy little island and just as soon as restrictions and advisories are lifted you can bet I’ll be booking a ticket there ASAP!
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