What you need to know if traveling to Puerto Rico “post” the Covid-19 vaccine

For memorial day weekend, my family and I visited Puerto Rico, in what we call in Spanish a “viaje relámpago”. It was a very last minute trip. We weren’t planning on doing this but as my sister’s death anniversary approached, I felt all the need in the world to be surrounded by the only people that can truly understand my grief, my parents and sisters. Since my sister’s passing, we have always being together during that day, except for last year because of Covid-19. Also, it was an opportunity to celebrate my nephew’s birthday since they were staying for the weekend.

So, after getting the green light from our employers, we headed to the island on a nonstop flight. As you can read, this wasn’t a leisure trip. Therefore, I have no advice, at the moment, for all the pretty places Puerto Rico has to offer but I can help you figure out what you need in terms of paperwork to visit the island during this “post” Covid-19 times.

There are only two major airports to which you can fly into Puerto Rico.

These are (1) Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) which flies you to San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico and (2) Rafael Hernández International Airport (BQN) which flies you to Aguadilla, a small town in the west side of Puerto Rico.

Click on the picture above to get directions to SJU from Google Maps.

Click on the picture above to get directions to BQN from Google Maps.

If you fly from the DMV area (Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia), like me, SJU (San Juan) is the only airport to which you can get on a nonstop flight. From the DMV, all flights arriving to BQN (Aguadilla) will have at least one layover, most likely somewhere in Florida. Typically, in Fort Lauderdale.

Currently, to visit Puerto Rico you are required to be vaccinated or get a PCR or antigen Covid-19 test. Of course, you need to present proof.

If you are vaccinated, you need to take a picture of your vaccine card and upload it to the Travel Declaration Form that can be found at Travel Safe website. Your last vaccine shot must have been given at least two weeks prior to your arrival to the island to ensure immunity has kicked in.

If you are not vaccinated, you need to provide a negative test for Covid-19 taken within 72 hours prior to your arrival to the island. You will also upload your results on the same Travel Declaration Form. If you arrive without the test, you will get a $300.00 fine unless you get tested in the island within 48 hours upon arrival. This includes children. Anyone over 2 years old that is not fully vaccinated is required to provide a negative test. Both of our kids got tested before leaving to Puerto Rico.

To fill out the out the Travel Declaration Form you need to register in the Travel Safe website first. If you are traveling with minors, you need to register them under your profile. As you fill out the Travel Declaration Form it will prompt you to add the minors.

There are multiple government run free testing sites in Maryland. I suggest you get your test three days (72 hours) prior to your departure date. The window for getting your results is approximately 48 hours but we all got ours the next day. Remember, you need to get a PCR/antigen Covid-19 test. Puerto Rico doesn’t accept the rapid test.

At the moment, Maryland doesn’t have testing or vaccination requirements for domestic travel. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory (modern day colony), so it is considered domestic travel.

Although, per the CDC travel guidelines, for unvaccinated people, like minors, it is recommended to get tested within 3-5 days of your return and quarantine for 7 days.

If you cannot get tested prior to your arrival to the island, you can find testing sites in Puerto Rico (and in the states) here. The picture below shows an example of some of the testing sites in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the International Airport is located. Click on the picture below to access the website.

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After filling out the Travel Declaration Form you’ll get a QR code. Take a picture of it because once you get to the island, you won’t be able to leave the airport until a member of the U.S. National Guard scans the QR code and confirms you are good to enter Puerto Rico. The U.S. National Guard is assisting with the health screenings at the airport.

For the next week, you will be receiving a daily text message asking you about your health. It’ll come as the Sara Alert Daily Report. It will ask you if you re experiencing any symptoms.

Another important detail about visiting Puerto Rico right now is that every single place I visited (grocery store, pharmacy, restaurant, hotel, airport and more) has a digital thermometer station with hand sanitizer by the entrance. See the picture below for an example. It was taken at a local pharmacy.

You need to stand in front of it, so it can read the temperature on your forehead and/or wrist. Then you are required to sanitize your hands before being admitted to the location. Comparing what I experienced over there with what I’ve seen in the DMV, folks in Puerto Rico are taking mitigation precautions more seriously and most people do follow the guidelines. More so, most people I saw not following rules were tourists.

I hope this blogpost was helpful if you plan on visiting Puerto Rico soon. Lastly, I would like to reiterate that shall you decide to visit the island, please please please FOLLOW instructions, wear your mask when requested and keep your distance.

PR doesn’t need entitled people taking advantage of the cheap flights. If you cannot comply with the rules over there, you don’t want to wear a mask because it’s hot, refuse to vaccinate and/or get a covid-19 molecular test, then don’t visit the island.

Be a good citizen. Follow the rules and enjoy. Puertorricans do pay it back!

Remember, check out my instagram page which I update more frequently to stay on the loop with my whereabouts and tips. Here’s my post for this blogpost.

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