It is January 2021, and we are happy to confirm that our island of Saint Barthélemy is open for travel and tourism. Some travel restrictions apply due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a nutshell, here are the testing requirements to enter St Barths:
- Visitors (age 10+) are required to show a negative Covid-19 test on arrival.
- Local authorities require either a PCR test (within 72 hours of arrival) or an Antigen test (within 48 hours of arrival). Note that not all Antigen / “rapid testing” methods are accepted. Read below for more details.
- If you are transiting through St Maarten (SXM) or staying for more than 7 days, additional testing rules apply. Read below for more details.
- Even if you have been vaccinated, you will still need to be tested in order to enter St. Barths.
The local St Barths authorities have been extremely fast in investing in rapid test devices since March 2020. On top of that, social distancing and mask-wearing have been made mandatory, following French law. Yet, no lockdown and no curfew in St Barths these days, unlike in Mainland France or some other Caribbean destinations.
If you are thinking about traveling to St Barths, here are official rules and data to help you make the right decision for yourself.
St Barts travel advisory
Is St Barths is open for travel and tourism?
Can you travel to St Barths right now? Yes, you can. Since June 22, 2020, St Barths has been reopened to travelers and tourists.
Due to COVID-19, you need to know about travel restrictions in St Barths, as well as from and back to your own country. We will focus here on the US, Canada, and France, where most of the island’s guests are from.
Americans and Canadians have been able to come back to St Barths since summer 2020. While Europe is mostly closed to US travelers, St Barths remains one of the few French territories to be open to North Americans. The local St Barths government has been very active in getting the right to welcome its loyal American tourists. As our island sits in the Americas and as we have close economic and human connections with the US, it made sense to make St Barths open for travel and tourism.
Are people traveling to St Barths right now? Yes, they are.
Over the year 2020, the number of airport arrivals managed to reach 118,813, a 35% drop compared with the record year of 2019. Overall, airport and port trafficked picked up again in summer 2020 and in October. The island was mostly closed off from April to May. Thanksgiving 2020 and Christmas / New Year’s Eve 2020 were pretty active, even if we had fewer tourists (airport arrivals were down by 17% for the last week of the year 2020, compared with 2019).
Restaurants, hotels, villa rental agencies, beaches, supermarkets are all open. Only famous cabaret Le Ti St Barth is closed, for varied reasons.
What the official U.S. travel advisory for St Barths?
As early January 2021, this is what the CDC was showing for St Barths:
- Level 3: High Level of COVID-19 in Saint Barthelemy
- Travelers should avoid all nonessential travel to Saint Barthelemy.
- Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid all travel to Saint Barthelemy.
Is St Barts on the quarantine list?
- US travelers: No, St Barths is not on the quarantine list. Although Saint Barthélemy (St Barths) is a French territory, it is not part of the European Schengen Area whose travelers are prohibited from entry to the United States. The CDC simply advises travelers to get tested with a viral test 1–3 days before travel. Also, get tested 3–5 days after travel AND stay home for 7 days after travel. This is advised, but not a mandatory quarantine.
- UK travellers: No, St Barths is not on the quarantine list. The United Kingdom has put St Barths on its travel corridor list: You do not need to self-isolate if you’re travelling to England from Saint Barthélemy.
St Barts COVID test entry requirements, rules, and restrictions
St Barths coronavirus COVID-19 testing rules
- Visitors (age 10+) are required to show a negative Covid-19 test on arrival. Some airlines or transiting airports (e.g. Sint Maarten and Puerto Rico) may ask you to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before boarding your flight to St Barths.
- Local authorities require either an rt-PCR test (within 72 hours prior to arrival) or an Antigen test (within 48 hours prior to arrival).
- COVID rt-PCR test for St Barths entry:
- Visitors must take the COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours (3 days) of their arrival. The date shown on your test is crucial, make sure to plan ahead
- PCR is the abbreviation for “polymerase chain reaction”. A COVID-19 PCR test checks whether there is genetic material (RNA) from the COVID-19 virus in the nose or pharynx. A swab is taken from the nose and throat with a cotton swab. This is sent to the laboratory where it is examined for the presence of the virus.
- Antigen test for St Barths entry
- Visitors must take the Antigen / rapid test within 48 hours (2 days) of their arrival
- Here’s the list of rapid antigen tests accepted in Sint Maarten (SXM) and St Barths (SBH):
- Abbott – CGIA (Panbio COVID-19 Ag rapid test
- Becton Dickinson (BD) –CGIA BD Veritor COVID test
- Roche/ SD biosensor F test
- The serological (Antibody) test and the Sophia 2 Antigen test are NOT ALLOWED for travel purposes.
- COVID rt-PCR test for St Barths entry:
- Note these entry requirements also apply if you are disembarking from a ferry or a private boat.
St Barts COVID testing centers
COVID-19 testing centers located on the island of St Barths:
- Free rapid test (Antigen), run by the local authorities, the Red Cross, and the French health authorities: The COVID-19 drive-through testing facility is located in the Saint-Jean parking lot in front of the cemetery, the site is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 3 pm and Saturday from 8 am to 12 pm. It is closed on public holidays. Results in 30 to 40 minutes. The free service is open to both locals and visitors:
- Travelers to Mainland France transiting through the Juliana airport (SXM)
- French or foreign travelers needing an antigenic (Antigen) test to travel to a foreign country (back to the United States, for instance)
- Visitors to Saint-Barthélemy in possession, by mistake, of a test of more than 72 hours upon arrival on the island
- Travelers who have been on the island for 7 days and want to be tested in order to secure their stay.
- PCR test: Symptomatic persons or contact cases are invited to be tested by PCR at the Bio Pôle Antilles laboratory in Gustavia, which is open from 12 to 1 pm from Monday to Friday and from 9 to 10 am on Saturday.
A few resources you need to get checked in the US prior to coming to St Barths
- Rapid test for travel – Find testing sites
- US Dept. of Health & Human Services – Find testing sites
- Vault Health
- The Covid Consultants
What if you are connecting to St Barths (SBH) via Sint Maarten / Saint Martin (SXM)?
- If you are traveling to St Barts via St Martin, you will also be required to complete an application form for entry to St Martin and submit it before your departure, along with information on your COVID-19 test results.
- Sint Maarten requires that everyone completing an application form purchase a $30 medical insurance policy, but this is NOT necessary if you are not spending the night in St. Maarten. You can find the form online at https://stmaartenehas.com/application-form/ .
- Please note that you will also need to apply for entry to Sint Maarten on your return flight, although no additional testing is required.
- Before boarding, you will have to show proof that you respect St Barths’s entry requirements (i.e., either a negative rt-PCR test within 72 hours before arrival or a negative Antigen test within 48 hours before arrival). See above our paragraph about St Barths requirements for more details.
What if you are connecting to St Barths (SBH) via San Juan / Puerto Rico (SJU)?
- If you are traveling to St. Barts via the San Juan airport (SJU), you do not need to fill out the online travel request form required to travel to Puerto Rico.
- All you need to do is show your negative Covid-19 test result and connect to your flight to St. Barts.
- The same applies when you travel through San Juan on your way home.
What if you are staying in St Barths for more than 7 days?
If you are staying in St Barths for more than 7 days, it is recommended that you be tested on the island on the 7th or 8th day using a rapid Antigen test.
What are the COVID rules for the 2021 St Barths Bucket Regatta and Voiles de St Barth?
- 2021 St Barths Bucket Regatta:
- St Barths COVID travel restrictions apply to enter the island
- Given the safe environment created and sustained on St Barths, specific plans are being developed to ensure that our event does not interfere with that success. Although outdoor sailing around St Barths Island is an inherently low-risk activity, we have been closely reevaluating all procedures, protocols, and schedules for both racing and shoreside activities to minimize risk. Additional notices and updates will be forthcoming in the months ahead
- 2021 Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille
- St Barths COVID travel restrictions apply to enter the island
Mask-wearing and social distancing rules in St Barths
Locals and visitors are required to wear masks indoors (e.g. boutiques, supermarkets). In some restaurants, you may be required to wear a mask when you going to or leaving your table.
People are invited to practice social distancing. For instance, restaurants have reduced their capacity to provide more space between tables.
St Barts COVID numbers: Coronavirus cases, COVID rate of infection, and risk level
Since the first case of COVID-19 has been recorded in St Barths in March 2020 (Source: COVID-19 Data Repository by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University):
- Since March 2020: 260 COVID-19 cases
- Since March 2020: 1 death attributed to COVID-19 (with other co-morbidities)
The St Barths COVID numbers are low. Note that the local population has access to free COVID testing, which helps track cases earlier. It also results in higher figures than on nearby islands with less access to labs. The island’s authorities are very reactive and organized. They can also count on a resourceful and resilient population, as proven by the fast recovery after hurricane Irma.
When looking at the data, you see several trends:
- The first wave of coronavirus COVID-19 hit the island in April 2019, right at the end of the high-season. A strict local lockdown in May and the absence of inbound tourists stopped the virus from spreading.
- In fall 2020, as the season was about to re-start, more hospitality workers and visitors started arriving.
- Despite a very busy 2020 Thanksgiving in St Barths, the number of cases remained under control.
- For the week of December 28 to January 3, Saint-Barthélemy recorded 14 new cases of Covid-19, including 9 residents, compared to a total of 6 new cases the previous week.
Sadly, 1 death has been officially linked to COVID-19, in early December 2020.