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By Forrest Brown, CNN
Puerto Rico, which along with Hawaii has maintained some of the strictest Covid-19 measures in the United States, announced Monday it’s relaxing travel restrictions.
Starting Thursday, the US territory in the Caribbean will no longer require that domestic travelers provide proof of vaccination or take a Covid-19 test before arrival, according to Discover Puerto Rico.
For international visitors coming to Puerto Rico, the same US entry requirements still apply.
International arrivals 18 and older must be fully vaccinated to enter, with limited exceptions.
All air passengers 2 or older with a flight departing to the United States from a foreign country are required to test negative for Covid-19 no more than one day before travel or present documentation of having recently recovered from Covid-19 before they board their flight.
What about masks?
Also starting Thursday, March 10, the Puerto Rican government is ending mask requirements for indoor and outdoor establishments.
It’s also dropping capacity limits for private and public establishments, such as restaurants, bars, theaters and event venues.
People entering private and public venues will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results. This includes motels and other lodging as well.
However, “masks will still be recommended for situations where vaccination status cannot be guaranteed,” Discover Puerto Rico said in a news release, and “individual businesses still reserve the right to establish their own health and safety guidelines and operations.”
For now, people still must wear face masks while on public transportation (including airplanes, trains, subways, buses and taxis) while traveling into, within or out of the United States.
For ships to be granted entry to Puerto Rico, all guests 12 or older must be fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.
Passengers 12 and older who aren’t vaccinated cannot disembark ships in Puerto Rico.
Hawaii is another US island chain that kept up strict Covid rules while measures were eased or entirely dropped on the mainland much earlier. But the state is now also moving to relax its measures.
The state’s travel quarantine and Safe Travels Hawaii program will end on March 25.
That means visitors arriving from domestic points of origin will no longer have to show proof of vaccination or take a Covid test to bypass a five-day quarantine.
The Safe Travels program applies only to domestic arrivals. As with Puerto Rico, international arrivals must still follow federal requirements.
US Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico’s US neighbor in the Caribbean, the US Virgin Islands, is still maintaining stricter Covid-19 entry regulations.
All domestic travelers 5 older and all international travelers 2 or older who enter the US territory by air or sea must use the USVI Travel Screening Portal to be cleared for travel.
Domestic travelers who are fully vaccinated do not need to test before arrival. Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated domestic travelers must have a negative result from a test taken within five days of arrival.
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Top image: Pigeons crowd the streets of Old San Juan, a popular tourist destination. (Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/AP)