Last night, an American Airlines flight bound from Miami landed in Antigua & Barbuda—it was the first commercial flight from the U.S. to land on the island since the COVID pandemic grounded international tourism.

That signaled the phased reopening of the destination’s tourism and hospitality industry.

The country’s Ministry of Health, Wellness & The Environment has determined that it is now ready to reopen the borders to international and regional travelers, while employing a phased and controlled approach.

A series of travel safety protocols are being introduced that impact every element of the visitor experience, from arrivals at ports of entry, through ground transfers, resort accommodations, restaurants, tours and attractions.

“The health and safety of our residents and our visitors will always be our top priority,” stated the Hon. Charles “Max” Fernandez, Minister of Tourism & Investment, during a virtual press conference. “Despite the severe economic strain on our economy resulting from the closure of our tourism industry, we waited until we were in a position to reassure both our citizens and our prospective guests that every precaution is being taken to ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation experience. The travel safety protocols have been developed under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, with the full support and cooperation of our stakeholders.”

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During Phase one, all arriving passengers must have a mask in their possession for use on disembarkation, which must be worn in public areas throughout their stay in Antigua and Barbuda. All arriving passengers must also complete a health declaration form. Screenings and thermal checks will occur on arrival and passengers may be asked to undergo a rapid antigen test on arrival or at their hotel.

All hospitality accommodations including hotels, resorts, villas and home rentals must satisfy the stipulations of the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment and be certified prior to reopening to welcome visitors. Restaurant dining protocols will include enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, incorporate physical distancing measures, and will offer à la carte dining and delivery or takeout services, instead of buffet.

For more information on health and safety rules go to visitantiguabarbuda.com.