Saturday, July 20, 2024

Covid tests for visitors: many hotels are now offering the service to guests

Travelers flying into the United States will not only need to provide a negative Covid-19 test but must go into quarantine as well, according to an order signed Thursday by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Details of the quarantine, such as the length of time, remain unclear.

It had already been ruled that, beginning January 26, anyone over 2 years of age entering the United States from any other country — including passengers on a return trip home to the U.S. — will be required to provide a negative Covid test administered no more than three days before their flight, or show evidence that they’ve recovered from the virus and have been cleared for travel by a licensed medical professional or public health official.

Either a PCR test or the faster and cheaper antigen tests are accepted. (Incorrect information appeared in a story published Wednesday.)

Canada also recently changed its requirements for travelers entering the country. Since January 7, airline travelers aged 5 or older are required to provide proof of a negative Covid test result to the airline prior to boarding.

The new rule is bound to create headaches for travelers wondering where to get a test in a foreign country, so hotels and tourism offices in Mexico have been stepping up to help travelers obtain the needed test with the aim of encouraging travelers to keep their reservations.

Many large hotel chains catering to American visitors have announced they will offer onsite testing or help connect customers to nearby labs and hospitals.

“Most of the hotels throughout Mexico are offering the service, and they’re even giving it to you for free,” said Hope Smith, a California-based travel adviser and owner of the Born to Travel agency.

Sandals, Melía, Marriott, Sandos and Blue Diamond are just a few of the resort chains offering free onsite viral antigen tests after January 26 in their tourist destination locations. Hotels can also connect guests with testing at nearby hospitals and laboratories.

Because other countries have already been requiring negative Covid tests from people returning from Mexico, the nation’s tourist areas already have good testing infrastructure in place, said Laura Septién, president of the San Miguel de Allende Tourism Council.

“We have the laboratories, we have the equipment to have results on time,” she said, adding that local tourism offices often can help if a traveler is having trouble finding or arranging a test.

“The cheapest antigen test I’ve found here is about US $15-$20; it’s really not that expensive,” said Carmen Joaquín, president of the Cozumel Business Owners Union. Many larger hotel chains are including the cost of a coronavirus test in the room rate, she said.

In some cases, hotels are even offering guests large discounts on reservation extensions should they end up testing positive and staying in Mexico an extra two weeks.

The Velas resort chain, for example, is allowing customers who test positive to extend their stay at a 75% discount and will accommodate guests who need to isolate from their travel party with a separate room.

Testing labs can also be found on the U.S. Embassy website, which maintains a list of laboratories and pharmacies that offer PCR and antigen tests.

Source: The Washington Post (en)

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