While the borders of many countries remain closed to Americans due to rampant coronavirus cases in the United States, Saint Lucia is among the few nations that acted fast to curb the spread and has since constructed a plan to provide healthy travelers a path to paradise, Allen Chastanet, the island country's prime minister, told Cheddar.
"Nobody wants to come on vacation and end up being on quarantine for two weeks," he said.
In accordance with the Saint Lucia Travel Authority, a set of procedures have been established for those traveling to the island that would assess them for any coronavirus-related symptoms.
"Saint Lucia, from early on, understood that a significant protocol was pre-testing," Chastanet explained.
The country has made it mandatory for those traveling to the island to provide documentation of negative coronavirus test results, which can be no more than seven days old. The protocols, according to Chastanet, are not only meant to keep people safe but also meant to provide peace of mind for travelers, workers, and citizens of Saint Lucia while the country works to keep the infection and death rates low.
"We've been very, very lucky. We started extremely early in reacting to the virus. I'm very happy to say we've only had 25 cases to date and we've not had anyone die," he said.
The Prime Minister attributes the country's success against COVID-19 not only to its pre-testing process but also to the willingness of hotels and resorts to uphold strict health and safety guidelines.
"Workers are pre-tested before they go back to work. They leave their uniforms on property, their shoes on property, and there's private transportation to take them back home," Chastanet said.
The nation's phase one reopening in June, according to the Prime Minister, was necessary for both the island and the U.S. after a three-month shutdown.
"The Caribbean is a huge economic driver for the American economy," Chastanet explained. "Almost 80 cents on every dollar an American spends in the Caribbean goes back to America," he noted, citing the fees that go to U.S. travel businesses like airlines and travel agents.
With tourism making up the bulk of Saint Lucia's economy, the Prime Minister says he's concerned about the future of travel without a global solution to the coronavirus. In the meantime, Chastanet, a former airline executive, suggested that the flight industry steps up their own safety protocols and implement policies similar to those Saint Lucia has adopted.
"We've been trying to encourage and challenge, in fact, the airlines to be advocates that the airline industry, in general, should require pre-testing before flying," Chastanet said.