With governments across the world introducing drastic measures in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Caribbean Islands are following suit. In addition to all French islands entering a period of quarantine and closing borders along with mainland France, other islands are implementing similar measures. Yesterday, 16 March, BWA Yachting released an update on the evolving situation in the region, and advised on how the various restrictions will impact the many superyachts in the area. 

Effective Tuesday 17 March, all international flights and cruises originating from USA, Europe and the United Kingdom to St. Maarten are cancelled for a period of two weeks. These travel restrictions do not apply for regional air and sea travel at this time and travel within the Dutch Caribbean – Saba, St. Eustatius, Bonaire, Aruba and Curaçao – remains in place until further notice.

The Immigrations and Border Protection Services of St. Maarten released an advisory on Monday 16 March stating that, in an effort to safeguard its communities from further wide-spread outbreak of the COVID-19, a number of travel restrictions have been implemented. Firstly, passengers and airline crew who have been in China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Korea, Macao or Singapore in the past 21 days are not allowed to transit or enter St. Maarten.

Secondly, passengers who have been in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, USA or the United Kingdom in the past 21 days are not allowed to transit or enter St. Maarten.

“Based on the speed at which everything is changing globally relative to COVID-19, please try to stay ahead of the curve with your preparations...”

BWA Yachting has advised that the industry that, since this was released, the list of countries in the travel exclusion as grown considerably. “This means that it is now official that you may not arrive back on SXM via any port with your vessel with guests/owners on board who have been in the USA, UK etc. in the last 21 days,” BWA Yachting has stated. “Please look ahead and envision that it is possible/likely that the other islands/countries may follow suit in the immediate-to-near future.”

The advisory also stated that residents of St. Maarten and crewmembers must self-quarantine for 14 days. “For those that are currently in St. Maarten, this could be enforced in the near future so please ensure that you are prepared for this,” BWA’s update added.

The British Virgin Islands is still officially a COVID-19-free country and the requirements seem to be changing regularly. However, at the moment, according to BWA, the BVI authorities are advising that they will no longer be quarantining vessels, but rejecting vessels from entering the territory if they are not happy with someone's health or there are any flags raised.

The latest travel advisory for Anguilla indicates that persons who have travelled to areas where community transmission or spread is occurring will be subject to quarantine measures of up to 14 days at an approved location, based on a risk assessment. “So effectively, [guests or crewmembers] may have to remain on board or get turned away depending on whether they have visited areas/countries that are on the ‘at risk’ list,” the BWA further advised. “Passports will need to be handed in so that Immigration can see where travel has occurred.”

In Antigua and Barbuda, it has been advised that it is now mandatory for all yachts arriving to complete a declaration of health document at least 24 hours prior to arrival. The aim of the document in this case is to know exactly where all crew and guests have been within the last 28 days.

The St. Barths Capitainerie has informed the BWA that it would be preferable for superyachts not to come to St Barths but, if they must come, they will remain at anchor and will not be able to come to the dock. As per the French government’s restrictions, all shops, bars and restaurants are now closed until further notice and quarantine is now official, which means no movement except to the supermarket or for medical and work reasons.

“Based on the speed at which everything is changing globally relative to COVID-19, please try to stay ahead of the curve with your preparations and prepare for these travel restrictions to increase yet again in the coming days and weeks,” BWA’s update concludes. “As such, please consider your vessel location plans and if you would like to stay where you are or move to a different location. Charter guests and owners should prepare to return home, especially if flying commercially. If [vessels] are still having difficulties trying to decide where to go to sit this out, where to drop off guests, or any concerns, please [contact BWA Yachting].” 

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