How Curaçao became one of the few places on earth with no Corona Virus.
*Disclaimer: We don’t receive any endorsements from any articles we wrote or the recommendations we mention. Free Walking Tours Curaçao prides itself on giving an honest opinion from a local’s perspective, and we always try to imagine putting ourselves in your shoes. *Update: Since the original post - there are a number of Covid cases which we don't track on this article. We have updated this article to reflect new requirements for entering the island, but due to the fluid nature of the situation, we suggest looking at the Curacao Government website or feel free to email us in case you have some questions.
On March 13th, 2020 our biggest fear finally hit home.
Our Prime Minister announced there was the first case of Covid-19 on Curaçao. The victim was an elderly man who arrived with his wife. He fell ill while on the island and unfortunately passed away on the 18th.
A further 15 people were identified with a total of 16 having contracted the virus through contact with visitors from abroad.
Source: Pixabay / photographer Mariamichelle
The response from the island’s politicians together with one epidemiologist Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth was swift and unprecedented (Which surprised all us considering our traditionally laid-back Caribbean culture that is Curaçao.)
In a span of a few days the border was closed for international flights, shops and restaurants closed, a curfew was instated, and cars were only allowed to drive on specific days depending on the Letter on their license plate.
The result was an economic implosion. The economy fell off a cliff, unemployment soared. Tourism being one of our main pillars came to a full standstill. With the help of a loan from the Dutch government, Curacao’s Government responded with a food pass for the unemployed or under employed (varying between 150 and 450 guilders (85-255USD), a 1.350 guilders (762 USD) monthly grant for the self-employed and a pause on bank payments.
After about 8 to 9 weeks of hardship, the results speak for themselves. The island has no more Corona virus and has started the process of opening its borders
Penha building: source Pixabay/Falco
Quarantine-free Countries and 14 Day Mandatory Quarantine Countries
To continue with this perfect streak, the island has implemented 2 sets of rules.
Starting from October 15th Tourists can now travel to Curaçao from select countries. At this moment those countries include the following:
See up to date list at www.Gobiernu.cw
The requirements are:
Fill in this form which shows you have tested yourself for Covid
You must fill in the passenger locator card
PCR test done 2-3 days prior to travel (this will have to be paid for by the passenger
Travel insurance that offers medical coverage for the duration of the stay
Declaration form filled in, stating good health and travel history
The second group of countries not belonging to the above must adhere to a strict quarantine rule (this currently includes the US, Colombia and Dominican Republic.)
Anybody coming from abroad (mainly locals repatriating) would need to quarantine at a hotel for 14 days and mus request a permit on the Curacao government website
The price per night is 250 guilders/141 USD per night,
Including food and travel from the airport). Initially the island tried “self-isolation” but we weren’t disciplined enough.
The decision on the above was made based on statistics whereby at the moment approx. 1.5% of every 10.000 tourists are infected (reduced to 0.7% after the PCR test.)
Is the 14 day quarantine worth it?
A Strong debate exists whether the mandatory quarantine (which without a doubt deters many from visiting) is not too strict and a better balance can be found.
However, we were soon proven correct of the benefits from the mandatory quarantine, which speak for themselves.
As of June 8th, 2020 there have been 4 additional cases of airplane passengers arriving with the Corona-Virus, totaling 20 cases from which 1 casualty, 16 recovered and 3 in isolation. And due to the quarantine, contact tracing was done effectively and further infection of the local population / economy was prevented.
Thus at this moment, after 14 days of mandatory quarantine you’re able to walk freely on the island without a care in the world for the Corona virus*.
The island has put together a plan which offers packages for people to stay on the island for up to 180 days. You can read more about this by visiting the Curacao Tourism Board’s website
Unfortunately, as with most new roll-outs, there were a few set-backs It was rumored that the first group of locals repatriating back to the island had a few complaints about the quality of the food they received during those 14 days. Small tweaks need to be made to make this process better and more enjoyable.
Our Alternate proposal to help speed-up the recovery
As a tour company with a constant finger on the pulse; We see the 180 days stay as a great opportunity for you the digital nomads, consultants, pensioners, sabbatical goers to settle here for 6 months.
The benefits are endless, do your work here in a perfect climate, decent internet connection, affordable rent and affordable cost of living compared to major cities in the Europe, the US and Canada.
Our ask to our leaders in government and tourism bureau is to actively promote the island for the nomads.
- For example, just 5.000 expats spending 1.500USD – 2.000USD a month on rent, car rental shopping, food would generate 7.5mn – 10mn USD a month in foreign income.
- While just a drop in the ocean in terms of our annual GDP, that little bit could help kick-start some local businesses and speed up the economy. Which in turns helps those business spend in the local economy.
Wishing everyone a safe journey, good health and a speedy economic recovery.
This Article was updated on the 30th of August to reflect changes in the Governments' entry requirements and as well new cases of Covid-19. We removed sections on our proposed alternatives as these were included in the government's decision to allow tourists from key countries to come in without a quarantine.