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Putting safety first: The Aruba Health & Happiness Code

As travellers anxiously wait for the starting gun to be fired on the international tourism kick-start, Aruba is introducing a stringent plan to ensure the safety of visitors. The tourism-dependent Dutch Caribbean island-nation has put into place the Aruba Health & Happiness Code, a strict cleaning and hygiene certification programme that will be mandatory for all its tourism-related businesses. Simultaneously, a number of the island’s major hotels are introducing their own carefully-planned health and safety initiatives. The island is provisionally planning to open to international visitors from June 15. The Aruba Health & Happiness Code certification will provide assurance that each business has taken every measure to offer a safe environment for staff and guests. The certification seal of approval will be displayed prominently on all tourism related businesses, and the certified businesses will also be found on the Department of Public Health website. Aruba’s health and safety protocols will provide a seamlessly secure and clean experience for visitors upon arrival. The Aruba Airport Authority has worked with the Department of Public Health and followed World Health Organisation guidelines to implement numerous measures such as screening, temperature checks, on-site medical professionals, social distance markers and additional shields and safeguards, mandatory PPE training for all staff, and more. As arriving visitors leave the airport, they will find the Aruba Health & Happiness Code certification seal of approval on taxis/transport and on all hotels and other accommodation, restaurants and bars, casinos, shops, and tour operators. The Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association has distributed its best practices guide to hotels. This elevates existing cleaning protocols to new norms for all areas, including luggage handling, lift safety, housekeeping guidelines, food and beverage service and casinos. The two pillars of the best practices guide are physical distancing and sanitation, based on the Department of Public Health of Aruba and WHO guidelines. Visitors can expect such measures as Perspex barriers at desks, digital keys and contactless check-in, thorough disinfecting of all public spaces and rooms. These new protocols to safeguard visitors and locals will also extend to national parks and tourism attractions. In order to receive visitors, all businesses must adhere to the new protocols and receive on-site inspection and approval from the Department of Inspection and Hygiene to be awarded with the Aruba Health & Happiness Code gold certification seal. Meanwhile, hotels introducing new measures include the Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort, already the Caribbean’s most eco-certified hotel. It has developed new Covid-19 safety protocols within Center for Disease Control and WHO recommendations, as well as practising intensive care health officials, to create touch-free holidays. Check-in is via personal tablet, for example, and guest rooms are sanitized and sealed until guests arrive. Divi Resorts’ new Clean Check programme provides enhanced hygiene standards and health and safety measures at all its four Aruba properties. Clean Check symbols will be seen throughout the resorts, from unit door seals confirming a room is ready for occupancy to signage with helpful distancing and sanitation guidelines. Marriott International, which has three properties in Aruba, has rolled out a multi-faceted programme to raise cleanliness standards. It has created the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council to focus on developing the next level of worldwide hospitality hygiene levels and practises to enhance guest safety.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. I love that they’ve called it the Health and Happiness code, it seems much more person-centred when phrased like that. It’s awful to think of places like this so dependent on tourism; Aruba must be hit hard by the pandemic. When you say provisionally planning to open to visitors on June 15, do you mean July? It’s reassuring that they’re being so proactive in putting precautions and safeguard into place. It’s also a good idea to have those on site inspections and approvals because I worry that after the initial efforts things might start to slacken, a bit like in the UK which nows seems pretty out of control in some respects.

    As a tourist, I’d feel a lot more confident and comfortable visiting somewhere like Aruba when you know the efforts they’re going to from start to finish, and I’d feel more at ease in properties with Clean Check symbols to know it’s as hygienic as possible. Sounds like Aruba are practicing the gold standard for travel post coronavirus lockdown.

    1. Sorry, no… that was June… I was a little late picking up the story! On 15th June, Aruba opened up its borders with Bonaire and Curacao.

      Aruba has had a relatively low number of cases (just over one hundred), but did report two new cases yesterday after a prolonged period without any. That said, their re-opening plans for our other countries remain unchanged. This includes opening borders with the USA on July 10; and with Europe, Canada and most Caribbean nations on July 1st.

      But with these requirements in place:

      – Mandatory ED card* to be filled in – this is available online at http://www.edcardaruba.aw
      – Self health declaration form to be submitted 72 hours prior to travel
      – Visitors are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test (PCR) before traveling (in the US CVS and Rite-Aid do offer these tests) and to upload the test results to a new digital platform that the Aruba authorities are setting up or to bring their test proof with them. Alternatively visitors (except children under 12) will need to pre-pay for a mandatory test upon arrival in Aruba (price initially indicated at US$75)
      – Must have COVID-19 medical insurance coverage. (Aruba has arranged for insurance to be provided by insurance companies based in Aruba). An indication of the insurance cost was given by the Minister of Tourism and this was US$15 per insured person per day.
      – Must consent to cooperate with all Aruba’s COVID-19 procedures and instructions including testing (if applicable), quarantine etc.
      – Must wear a mask on the flight to Aruba (not required while vacationing on the island but recommended nonetheless where social distancing is more of a challenge).

      Upon arrival there will be additional procedures at the Aruba airport:
      – Temperature screening
      – Obligatory PCR testing of ALL arriving passengers (except for those who have previously submitted proof of a PCR test) and a mandatory 24-hour quarantine at the traveler’s accommodation while awaiting test results.
      – Visitors who have submitted proof of a negative test during their ED card application will receive a temperature check and health interview by a medical professional, and if cleared, no further testing or 24-hour quarantine will be applicable to them
      – Visitors who test positive will be transported to alternative accommodations for isolation and will not be staying at their originally reserved accommodations until recovered, at which point they can resume their vacation or depart from Aruba.
      – Quarantine will be required for travel companions of a person who is suspected to be positive until the test results are available
      – Travel companions of a person who is confirmed to be positive will need to go into quarantine for 14 days.

      *The ED Card being referred to is not actually a card but the digital version of the Embarkation-Disembarkation Card that is handed out on flights to Aruba. The government has indicated that the ED Card website will be online on June 25th and aside from facilitating filling in the form digitally, it will also allow uploading of proof that a COVID-19 test has been done for persons who have taken the test before arriving in Aruba and wish to upload their proof beforehand. Proof can also be provided in a printed document upon arrival and that would also exempt one from needing to take the COVID-19 test here in Aruba.

  2. That’s a less negative and restrictive way of phrasing the safety measures against Covid 19. It seems their personalities reflect the sunny and happy vibe of the island. This way, it appears that we really haven’t put a stigma on traveling, or if some did, it somehow lessens the negative connotation around it. I’m glad to see that as more and more nations are taking their first tentative steps to welcome tourists on their shores, they are learning to incorporate, adapt, or innovate on already existing safety protocols. Adding more stringent measures than your basic disinfect, physical distancing, and wearing of masks.

  3. All the evidence and research seems to suggest that the coronavirus struggles to be as virulent in warmer temperatures. So combined with all these sensible measures it makes Aruba a top choice for a safe holiday!

  4. Safety will always come first in these times since every country and every place in the world values their health even more. Also, we have to adapt to the “new normal”. It is a good thing that Aruba, even though it’s a small island, values the safety and welfare of its tourists. Hard times are ahead of us and the travel and tourism industry is just really beginning to recover, little by little. I would assume that other institutions that accept tourists are also very strict when it comes to handling their visitors because businesses such as popular sites get most of their income from people that are coming in and out of their resorts. I’m also pleased with how they put the word “happiness” in their certification since happiness is very essential for the health of people.

  5. We have to adapt to the new normal. It is a good thing that Aruba, even though it’s a small island, values the safety and welfare of its all tourists.

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