By Forrest Brown, CNN
Puerto Rico, which along with Hawaii has maintained some of the strictest Covid-19 measures in the United States, announced on Monday that it was easing travel restrictions.
Starting Thursday, the US territory in the Caribbean will no longer require domestic travelers to provide proof of vaccination or take a Covid-19 test before arrival, according to Discover Puerto Rico.
For international visitors coming to Puerto Rico, the same US entry requirements still apply.
International arrivals 18 years and over must be fully vaccinated to enter, with limited exceptions.
All air passengers 2 years of age or older with a flight departing the United States from a foreign country must test negative for Covid-19 no more than one day before travel or present documentation showing that they have recently recovered of Covid-19 before boarding their flight.
And the masks?
Also starting Thursday, March 10, the Puerto Rican government is ending mask requirements for indoor and outdoor establishments.
It also removes capacity limits for private and public establishments, such as restaurants, bars, theaters and event venues.
People entering private and public places will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results. This also includes motels and other accommodations.
However, “masks will still be recommended in situations where vaccination status cannot be guaranteed,” Discover Puerto Rico said in a press release, and “individual companies still reserve the right to set their own guidelines and health and safety operations”.
For now, people are still required to wear face masks while In public transports (including airplanes, trains, subways, buses, and taxis) when traveling to, within, or outside the United States.
For ships to be allowed to enter Puerto Rico, all passengers 12 years of age or older must be fully immunized with a vaccine approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.
Passengers 12 and older who are not vaccinated cannot disembark ships in Puerto Rico.
Hawaii is another US island chain that has maintained strict Covid rules while measures were eased or dropped entirely on the mainland much earlier. But the state is also preparing to relax its measures.
The state’s travel quarantine and Safe Travels Hawaii program will end on March 25.
This means that visitors arriving from domestic points of origin will no longer have to show proof of vaccination or take a Covid test to circumvent a five-day quarantine.
The Safe Travels program only applies to domestic arrivals. As in Puerto Rico, international arrivals must still meet federal requirements.
US Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico’s US neighbor in the Caribbean, the US Virgin Islands, still maintains stricter Covid-19 entry regulations.
All domestic travelers 5 years of age or older and all international travelers 2 years of age or older entering the U.S. by air or sea must use the USVI Travel Screening Portal be allowed to travel.
Domestic travelers who are fully vaccinated do not need to be tested prior to arrival. Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated domestic travelers must test negative within five days of arrival.
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Top image: Pigeons fill the streets of Old San Juan, a popular tourist destination. (Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/AP)