With the Caribbean cruising season fast approaching, the local yachting community is starting to make preparations to welcome superyachts to the region in a COVID-19 world. In light of the limited laboratory resources in the region, marinas are looking at ways in which they can facilitate COVID-19 testing for arriving yacht crews and guests.

A testing clinic, independent of the government’s testing infrastructure, is being planned specifically for the maritime industry at IGY Marinas’ Yacht Club Isle de Sol in St. Maarten, and is scheduled to be operational by December. “The goal is to provide additional testing equipment for St. Maarten, so that the maritime industry does not become a burden on the island’s testing facilities, but rather we are adding to the infrastructure,” Brian Deher, IGY regional director for the Caribbean, told local news outlet The Daily Herald.

“It’s more about when you are here and home-porting, you can be safe while you are here, whether it’s crew, charter guests or owners joining the boat, or even marine professionals coming to and from the vessel. While yacht crew and guests coming in by air would normally be adhering to the 72-hour testing protocol (now 120-hour) for arrival in St. Maarten, we do envisage there will be some instances where additional testing will be needed while here.”

“The goal is to provide additional testing equipment for St. Maarten, so that the maritime industry does not become a burden on the island’s testing facilities...”

The clinic is a private initiative and is being worked on in collaboration with the government. The idea is that the equipment would also be available to the government, if needed, for any outbreak situation further down the line.

“We will definitely be proactive in assisting the [St. Maarten] Marine Trades Association and the government for testing option centres in other marinas and areas for the coming season,” Deher added. “We’ve got a lot of demand from boats to come down and they want to have a cruising bubble between St. Maarten, St. Martin, Anguilla and St. Barths.”

The upcoming Caribbean season certainly has the potential to attract significant superyacht traffic, as UHNWIs could consider lower-risk holiday options (in terms of coronavirus transmission) after a long period of limited travel. However, there needs to be more certainty and assurance on whether borders in the region will be open for yachts to cruise between islands before many will commit to visiting.

As such, St. Maarten Marine Trades Association is reported to be in talks with local governments about the possibility of establishing cruising bubbles between certain Caribbean islands, which will enable yachts to move around with a certain amount of freedom in the region. SuperyachtNews will keep readers informed regarding any further updates on this.

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