Puerto Rico Implements Strict Vaccination and Testing Rules for Hotel Stays

"Vaccinations are the solution," Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said.

Empty beach in Loiza, Puerto Rico for quarantine
A popular tourist beach front restaurant in Pinones is seen closed during a coronavirus, COVID-19, stay at home order in Loiza, Puerto Rico on March 21, 2020. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/Getty Images

Puerto Rico will start requiring all hotel and short-term rental employees and guests to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test result upon arrival later this month.

The new rule, which goes into effect on Aug. 16, will apply to both employees and guests of all hotels, Paradores, guesthouses, and short-term rentals, according to Discover Puerto Rico. For those who aren't vaccinated, they must show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of their visit. Those who stay longer than a week must then continue to show negative tests on a weekly basis.

The move, which Gov. Pedro Pierluisi spoke about during a news conference, will include Airbnb and Vrbo home rentals.

"We cannot lower our guard," Pierluisi said, according to The Associated Press. "There are vaccines for everyone. Vaccinations are the solution."

To travel to Puerto Rico, vaccinated domestic travelers are required to upload their official vaccination cards to the island's Travel Declaration Form portal. Unvaccinated travelers must show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of their arrival. If they arrive without a test, they must upload one within 48 hours of their arrival or will face a $300 fine, according to the tourism board.

Travelers heading back to the mainland United States are not required to get tested before their flight as Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and exempt from the country's pre-departure testing rules.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies Puerto Rico as having a "high" level of community transmission right now with a 10 to 14.9% test positivity rate over a 7-day average. Like much of the country, Puerto Rico's cases are being driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

The island's health secretary, Carlos Mellado, told the AP 20% of current hospitalizations are people who received two doses of a vaccine.

In Puerto Rico, 78.4% of adults 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

While Puerto Rico has begun to welcome travelers, strict rules remain in place. Masks are required indoors, regardless of vaccination status — in line with the CDC's recommendation — and access to Old San Juan is limited to residents and tourists staying in the area from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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