Tourism Co. partners with JetBlue on COVID-19 tests for travelers
By John McPhaul
With the purpose of helping ensure that those who have scheduled trips to Puerto Rico do so in a safe and responsible manner, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (CTPR by its Spanish initials) and JetBlue announced an alliance Monday that will facilitate access to COVID-19 molecular tests provided by Vault Health, JetBlue’s provider partner for polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, testing.
The joint initiative consists of an effort dedicated to increasing the percentage of JetBlue customers who enter the island with a test conducted in advance, by providing access to molecular tests at home, through a process facilitated and supervised by the Vault company. The call to consider the trial alternative is extended to those who have confirmed a travel itinerary to Puerto Rico, since efforts to stimulate demand from travelers remain on hold considering the travel guidelines issued by the authorities.
According to a written statement, JetBlue and the Puerto Rico government, through the CTPR, “are committed to helping protect the health of all and, at the same time, providing viable options for those who have to travel to Puerto Rico to do so safely and responsibly.”
In order to protect both travelers and island residents, since July 15, the central government has implemented an executive order that requires every person traveling to Puerto Rico to show evidence of a negative molecular test result for COVID-19 in order to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Since that time, JetBlue, the airline with the largest presence on the island, has continued to work with the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. to notify the nearly 200,000 passengers who have traveled to the destination about the entry requirements.
In an unprecedented effort, the CTPR and JetBlue have used their alliance to launch an intense awareness campaign aimed at ensuring that the majority of travelers with itineraries to San Juan in the coming weeks can complete the pre-COVID-19 testing process upon entrance, the statement said. The Vault company collaborates with its network of laboratories to provide a service that guarantees fast and highly reliable results. All JetBlue passengers using the Vault company service will have access to a direct phone line to receive support throughout the process.
“JetBlue remains steadfast in its approach of using all the resources necessary to keep our travelers safe. The implementation of the use of tests for all those who decide to travel to visit friends and family this year-end season is a necessary measure to protect everyone and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and principal JetBlue operations officer. “This is our most recent initiative in partnership with destinations in the Caribbean region to promote safe travel through easy access to tests.”
CTPR Executive Director Carla Campos said “[w]e are very proud to be able to join JetBlue in this collaborative effort that, through easy access to pre-trip testing, makes the health and safety of Puerto Rico’s crew, travelers, and residents our highest priority.”
“Puerto Rico has been recognized internationally as a leader in the implementation of health and safety protocols designed specifically for the industry by organizations such as the World Travel and Tourism Council,” Campos said. “We continue to be committed to being facilitators for an agile and responsible recovery of tourism, giving priority to the accessibility of pre-trip tests. During the next month many people will be traveling to our Island of Enchantment to visit their loved ones. Through this alliance we seek to increase the percentage of people arriving on the island with evidence from the test from 30 percent to 75 percent and make it possible for more families to share responsibly during this festive season.”
The simple saliva test is performed through a video call facilitated by Vault, with a supervisor who helps ensure that the customer takes the sample properly. The sample is sent expeditiously to a laboratory to be processed in 72 hours or less. In addition to offering priority support, Vault has created an electronic page for JetBlue passengers with travel itineraries to Puerto Rico which can be accessed at https://learn.vaulthealth.com/puertorico/.