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Thread: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

  1. #1
    Aipotu is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2008 Connecticut Posts: 326

    Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    With the same mix of sadness and gratitude that grips us all upon leaving the island, we wrapped up an 11-night visit to St. Barths yesterday and are now back in Connecticut after our seventh stay overall.

    I want to thank so many people on this Forum who shared testing information prior to our trip. There is so much confusing and competing information out there, and it is ever-changing, so it is hard to find ground truth. The threads here come the closest.

    For those of you sitting on the fence about visiting, we can highly recommend that you move forward with your plans. I can honestly state that the amount of angst and worry we experienced before the trip were largely unwarranted:

    · The biggest hurdle, of course, remains the 72-hour test requirement for entry. That actually proved simple – we used Covid Consultants, and they were fantastic to work with. We self-administered tests on Tuesday evening and had results back late Wednesday night. You may have local options, but from my research, few places yet can guarantee results in three days.
    · YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET TESTED AFTER 7 DAYS ON THE ISLAND. As other threads have noted, that apparently was only a recommendation. (That said, even WIMCO was not aware of the shift/slide.). Based on what we heard and read, there is simply no way for the island to meet the demand that the rule would require for enforcement, especially now.
    · You do not need a test to transit back through SXM, though you do need to fill out a health self-assessment form.
    · THIS WAS VERY CONFUSING – but you DO NOT need to get a test to fly back into JFK. If you are a New York resident looking to shorten your quarantine upon return, you are required to get tested 72-hour before – but again ONLY for NYS residents looking to shorten quarantine. You will have to fill out a simple on-line health assessment – and even that has an in-person option upon arrival at JFK.
    · Because the CDC classifies St. Barths as a level 2 country, no self-quarantine is required upon return to Connecticut, where we live.

    Now, to be fair, this covers only the legal aspects of the experience. We all need to make personal decisions on how we act before, during and after our stays. We’re going to stay home through the weekend and then get tested on Monday just to be certain. That said, St. Barths is much safer – for now – than our home state.

    That brings me to one other set of observations. I think in reality St. Barths is taking the pandemic seriously, and generally has been very good about enforcement of masks in public spaces, limiting the number of people in stores, etc. I’ve seen some here suggest that the Americans let the masks slip, though our experience was that the continental French visitors were more likely to pull the mask down, at least below the nose. (Not looking to cause an international incident – just an observation!)

    That said, we found the tables in restaurants a tad too close to one another – and on this past Sunday afternoon, in particular, it looked like Nikki Beach was hosting a superspreader event. I don’t ever use the word “aghast” in conversation, but we were aghast by what we saw there – hundreds of people, tons of booze and masks on no one but the servers. We turned away immediately. I fear what gatherings like that suggest for the high season coming up. Our advice: if you’re craving their menu, go on a Tuesday. 

    All-in-all, it’s fairly easy to be/feel protected, especially if you like hanging at your villa or on most of the beaches – their solitude has always been a huge asset, and never more than now.

    We had a great time, the island is beautiful and green, the water warm and largely sargassum-free, Fouquets is a fantastic addition to the restaurant scene, and everything you love about the island is still there. Now, just get rid of the transportable traffic lights, and it would be just about perfect! ;-)

    Now to start planning our next visit...

  2. #2
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 27,096

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Terrific post-and you know I love that you are planning that NEXT trip already. What took so long?

    Stay well and keep taking good care of each other.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  3. #3
    GramChop is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Austin, Texas Posts: 17,404

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Great report, David. The many traffic lights and construction cranes were both new to me on my recent trip.

    Glad y’all are home safe and sound. Now, let’s chat before our next visits so we might be able to overlap a few days. I’m super bummed to have missed y’all.
    The waves of the sea bring me back to me.

  4. #4
    Aipotu is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2008 Connecticut Posts: 326

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by GramChop View Post
    Great report, David. The many traffic lights and construction cranes were both new to me on my recent trip.

    Glad y’all are home safe and sound. Now, let’s chat before our next visits so we might be able to overlap a few days. I’m super bummed to have missed y’all.
    Agreed -- I was thinking the same thing. November 2021 is indeed a possibility!

  5. #5

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    We've spent a few weeks on the island this year, too, with our most recent trip ending this past Saturday. I would echo your sentiments. Your observations are spot-on!

  6. #6
    debd is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2005 CT Posts: 1,092

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Thanks, David, for such a helpful report. Sounds like a lovely trip, and relatively smooth going.

    I had also heard, from another person on island, about the Nikki Beach situation last Sunday. "Stunning" was the descriptive word they used amongst others.

  7. #7
    cec1 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 6,149

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Great reporting . . . thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

  8. #8
    Jeanette is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2005 Cambridge, MA Posts: 7,525

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by Aipotu View Post
    You do not need a test to transit back through SXM, though you do need to fill out a health self-assessment form.
    Hi Dave. Great insights - thanks for taking the time to post. How did you find out you didn't need a test to fly home through SXM? Their website indicates that if you've traveled from a high risk country within 14 days, then you need to test. We have to make a go/no go decision on testing tomorrow. Also, is the SXM health assessment form the same online form you completed when traveling down? If so, that one needs a negative COVID test result.

    I greatly appreciate any guidance you can offer.
    Liberté, Égalité, Sororité

  9. #9
    Aipotu is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2008 Connecticut Posts: 326

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeanette View Post
    Hi Dave. Great insights - thanks for taking the time to post. How did you find out you didn't need a test to fly home through SXM? Their website indicates that if you've traveled from a high risk country within 14 days, then you need to test. We have to make a go/no go decision on testing tomorrow. Also, is the SXM health assessment form the same online form you completed when traveling down? If so, that one needs a negative COVID test result.

    I greatly appreciate any guidance you can offer.
    We checked with both St. Barth Commuter and WIMCO in advance. Because we were in transit and would be in the airport only a few hours, we were exempt from needing test results. The form we filled out was the same one as when we travelled in. Here's the response we received from Alexandra at SB Commuter (who did recommend printing out the approved health form -- that said, we forgot and just showed them the e-mail confirmation, and there was no issue whatsoever):

    Prior DEPARTURE from St Barths to Sint Maarten :
    > Health Declaration Form :
    https://stmaartenehas.com/application-form/
    > Declaration on the honor of absence of symptoms (travellers to France only).
    > NO rt-PCR required if you are travelling from St-Barths and you are IN TRANSIT in Juliana.
    For more information about the travel requirements from/to Sint-Maarten, please click here :
    https://stmaartenehas.com/travel-requirements/

    I hope this helps -- it's all nerve-wracking, but to be honest, I felt like we created much of the anxiety ourselves. (Though dealing with multiple countries and states was not helpful).

    Bonne chance!

  10. #10
    Debbysav is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Nov 2020 Posts: 10

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Happy Thanksgiving! I enjoyed your report. Planning a trip for the New Year.

    You has mentioned that you used the COVID Consultants and self administered. We would like to do that. We are in the Chicagoland area and it is difficult to get an appointment unless you have been exposed or have symptoms. On the St Martin info website it states that home administered tests were not accepted. But it sounds like they accepted your results? Or did you test 2X?

    Confusing but I think worth it. I just came off of quarantine after having the virus so thinking we'll be immune for a little while which makes the idea of traveling more safe and less stressful.

    Thank you!

  11. #11
    Jeanette is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2005 Cambridge, MA Posts: 7,525

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by Aipotu View Post

    I hope this helps -- it's all nerve-wracking, but to be honest, I felt like we created much of the anxiety ourselves. (Though dealing with multiple countries and states was not helpful).

    Bonne chance!
    Yes, this is super helpful. Merci beaucoup. I just filled out the St. Maarten EHAS form for two of the five of us and I was not asked to upload a test since we are IN TRANSIT. Oddly, I was asked to check if our test was antigen or PCR, but they didn't need it.

    Our Covid Consultants experience wasn't as smooth as your since FedEx lost one of our tests. My daughter was hours away from leaving before receiving pre-approval from St. Maarten. We had a layover in Atlanta and there were several people at the gate who had test results, but didn't have their SXM certification and weren't able to travel.
    Liberté, Égalité, Sororité

  12. #12
    Aipotu is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2008 Connecticut Posts: 326

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by Debbysav View Post
    Happy Thanksgiving! I enjoyed your report. Planning a trip for the New Year.

    You has mentioned that you used the COVID Consultants and self administered. We would like to do that. We are in the Chicagoland area and it is difficult to get an appointment unless you have been exposed or have symptoms. On the St Martin info website it states that home administered tests were not accepted. But it sounds like they accepted your results? Or did you test 2X?

    Confusing but I think worth it. I just came off of quarantine after having the virus so thinking we'll be immune for a little while which makes the idea of traveling more safe and less stressful.

    Thank you!
    Covid Consultants uses a nasal swab RT-PCR test -- the only one that SXM and SBH will accept.. Do not do the spit test -- that will not be accepted.

  13. #13
    Leon is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jun 2007 USA and Web Posts: 323

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Thank you for your detailed report, Dave!

    I wanted to ask how is Juliana airport. Is it any better than it was in 2019, as the waiting areas are concerned, and the process? I am asking as we will have 2-4 hours between our connecting AA and SBC flights, thanks to AA changing the times on us.
    Enjoying St Barth since 1998

  14. #14
    Aipotu is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2008 Connecticut Posts: 326

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by Leon View Post
    Thank you for your detailed report, Dave!

    I wanted to ask how is Juliana airport. Is it any better than it was in 2019, as the waiting areas are concerned, and the process? I am asking as we will have 2-4 hours between our connecting AA and SBC flights, thanks to AA changing the times on us.
    The last time we went through Juliana, it was a tent with little ventilation, so in that regard, being back in the shell of the main building is a good development. We have no real complaints -- thanks to SB Commuter, the arrival was about as easy as could be and the waiting area for Gate 1, while near a bathroom, was generally empty. Our way back required the usual going through immigration and then checking in, and again, that was relatively easy and the lines weren't long. We had a four-hour layover, and were able to keep socially distant rather easily. The food and beverage options are no better nor substantially worse than they always have been. :-)

  15. #15
    Amery is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Sep 2017 Posts: 49

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by Aipotu View Post
    The last time we went through Juliana, it was a tent with little ventilation, so in that regard, being back in the shell of the main building is a good development. We have no real complaints -- thanks to SB Commuter, the arrival was about as easy as could be and the waiting area for Gate 1, while near a bathroom, was generally empty. Our way back required the usual going through immigration and then checking in, and again, that was relatively easy and the lines weren't long. We had a four-hour layover, and were able to keep socially distant rather easily. The food and beverage options are no better nor substantially worse than they always have been. :-)
    I echo the above having just passed through SXM last night on our way home. We arrived Sat 11/21 and arrival was fairly quick and easy. Filling out the required health forms for all 4 of us the day before felt more time consuming than transit in through Juliana! On the way out, allow a bit more time though we actually processed through--from leaving SBH to sitting at the bar in Juliana--in less than an hour, closer to 45 minutes. You have to fill out health forms again the day before departure. Since in transit and they already have upload of test results from your arrival, you fill out the form online and show either a print out or your email confirm on phone at a separate desk just after immigration. After luggage pick up and check in for main flight, security line wasn't long, nor was last immigration stop. The new larger bar gives plenty of room to sit and have drinks and/or food. All in all, transit through SXM was smooth both ways likely due to less travelers overall. St Barth was green and gorgeous. Nothing felt too crowded except a few days on Gouverneur the beach was pretty full. Thanksgiving night at Tamarin was busy though plenty of space in the garden for cocktails and outdoor tables well spaced. All in all we generally found everyone adhering to mask wearing and rules. Would go back in a minute!

  16. #16

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Thanks so much for the information. We are planning to return in March/April and are constantly looking for current conditions. Your explanation really helps us get prepared for our trip. The forum has always keep us up to date and we appreciate all the posts. We'll look forward to reading about everyone's experiences as we can't wait to be back on this magnificent island.

  17. #17
    Gail&Jeff is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Mar 2020 Posts: 10

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Thanks for the update on travel to St. Barts. When you said you used Covid Consultants, is this the site: https://thecovidconsultants.com
    I am also worried about getting test in a timely manner to travel....thanks

  18. #18
    Aipotu is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2008 Connecticut Posts: 326

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by Gail&Jeff View Post
    Thanks for the update on travel to St. Barts. When you said you used Covid Consultants, is this the site: https://thecovidconsultants.com
    I am also worried about getting test in a timely manner to travel....thanks
    yes

  19. #19
    debd is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2005 CT Posts: 1,092

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Interesting to hear about the ease of the SXM form for in transit return, including that SXM already has the info on file from the trip down. Wondering about the variable if a visitor was to travel down via SJU, and back via SXM, where SXM would not have any form for arrival on file. Anyone have experience with this?

  20. #20
    Amery is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Sep 2017 Posts: 49

    Re: Our {Covid} Trip Experience -- November 13-24

    Quote Originally Posted by debd View Post
    Interesting to hear about the ease of the SXM form for in transit return, including that SXM already has the info on file from the trip down. Wondering about the variable if a visitor was to travel down via SJU, and back via SXM, where SXM would not have any form for arrival on file. Anyone have experience with this?
    My guess is you would have to upload test results in order to transit back through SXM if only one way? Not certain, my assumption was that b/c we had given results in order to transit through on arrival, they did not need them again on the way back. Have no idea if they consider SBH-SXM only "in transit" if traveller had not arrived via Juliana, thus having shown proof of test. Good question!

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