St. Lucia Tourism Authority has announced a phased approach to reopening the island’s tourism sector “in a responsible fashion,” beginning June 4.

Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee said in the statement released Sunday, that the strategy protects nationals and visitors from the threat of COVID-19 through testing; daily screening and monitoring of staff and visitors; sanitation at points throughout the travelers’ journey; and new social-distancing protocols.

“Our new protocols have been carefully crafted and will build confidence among travelers and our citizens,” Fedee said. “The government of Saint Lucia remains resolved to protect both lives and livelihoods as it jumpstarts its economy.”

According to the statement, phase one of the reopening includes opening to flights from the U.S. only at the larger of its two airports — Hewanorra International Airport.

“In anticipation of the first visitors, some 1,500 hotel rooms in Saint Lucia are being prepared to open in early June, pending completion of a new COVID-19 certification process,” Fedee said.

In order to protect residents and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Fedee said St. Lucia closed its travel borders on March 23.

Since then, St. Lucia has followed protocols recommended by the World Health Organization and the Caribbean Public Health Agency, observed shelter-in-place guidelines and created a COVID-19 task force.

To date, St. Lucia has recorded 18 cases of COVID-19, and all individuals have fully recovered. No active cases are currently being investigated, according to the news release.

Fedee said the phased approach to reopening, which continues through July 31, is the result of the task forces consultations with on-island industry stakeholders.

The new procedures span from the hotel booking process to the airport arrival and hotel experience.

The protocols include:

• Visitors are required to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding their flight.

• Upon arrival in St. Lucia, all travelers must continue the use of face masks and physical distancing.

• Travelers will be subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities.

Fedee said that protocols are being established for taxis to provide safety precautions and separate the driver from guests as an added security measure.

He added that in order to ensure St. Lucia remains a safe and responsible destination, the government is developing a COVID-19 certificate for hotels.

“Hotels must meet a dozen or more specific criteria for sanitization, social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols before they will be permitted to open to guests,” Fedee said.

Phase two of the island’s “new responsible approach to tourism will begin on Aug. 1. Details will be released at a later date,” Fedee said.

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