As of this week, the Dominican Republic has taken a step closer to post-pandemic normality with the announcement that it would no longer test unvaccinated travelers. Until now, unvaccinated tourists were administered random breathalyzer tests upon entry. Last Monday, the Civil Aviation Board announced that the country would no longer perform random testing even for unvaccinated travelers. The lifting of anti-COVID measures also affects the use of face-covering masks, which are no longer mandatory in Dominican Republic airports. The Dominican Republic is set to welcome a near-record number of tourists this year, who can look forward to a hassle-free entry process.
The new decision coincides with a period of decreased COVID cases and hospitalizations, allowing for the gradual lifting of restrictions. According to Luis López, the communications director of the country’s aviation authority, “the entire personnel from the health ministry assigned to the airports for health inspections has been removed from the premises”. However, passengers who need a pre-departure test for their return flight can still get them from various testing points.
In addition to testing unvaccinated passengers randomly, those with active COVID infections were placed in quarantine. With the new decision, those measures no longer apply. The travel industry has welcomed the move, which will help make international travel to the Caribbean island easier and more stress-free.
Other measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are being lifted also include social distancing at public airports. Moreover, sanitary measures such as frequent hand washing and disinfectant points are also being removed.
Arriving passengers were pleasantly surprised by the new measures announced on the 23rd of April, airport officials report. Tourists, who had been accustomed to complicated rules surrounding international travel, can now enjoy visiting the Dominican Republic free of restrictions.
However, the national aviation board’s decision foresees the possibility of reintroducing measures should the epidemiological situation worsen. Therefore, authorities will be keeping a close eye on COVID cases as well as new variants that may lead to further surges in the country.
The aviation authority’s decision states that “when needed”, random tests can be implemented at short notice. Even so, fully vaccinated passengers are exempt from any form of testing. The decision does not specifically mention under what situations people might be tested in the future, but presumably, it refers to passengers with typical symptoms of COVID.
Airports aren’t the only places where restrictions are being removed. Earlier this February, Dominican president Luis Abinader announced the lifting of all COVID restrictions in the Dominican Republic. These measures included the use of masks as well as social distancing affecting public spaces. The decision came at a time when the number of COVID patients was at a record low.
However, there are a few cases in which PCR testing and vaccination proof may be necessary. For example, flights departing to the U.S may ask passengers to present such proof. That’s why travelers should check with their airline to stay up to date on current travel measures. Some of the airlines that are still asking passengers for health documents include JetBlue, American Airlines, and Delta, among others. As a result, some airports continue to see passengers lining up for rapid antigen tests.
The new decision is also good news for U.K travelers. Until now, they had to perform a pre-departure PCR test to enter the country.
As of early April, there have been a total of 579.141 reported cases in the Dominican Republic, and 4.376 deaths as a result of the disease. There are currently 45 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and a total of 14 in intensive care units.
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