The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, situated in the Bay of Bengal, are a tropical paradise known for their pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and rich marine life. If you’re considering a trip to this exotic destination in the new normal, it’s essential to be well-informed about the latest travel guidelines and safety measures. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we travel, and visiting the Andamans requires careful planning and adherence to health protocols to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to know about visiting the Andaman Islands in the new normal.
1. Pre-Trip Planning:
a. Research Entry Requirements: Before planning your trip, it’s crucial to research and understand the latest entry requirements for the Andaman Islands. These requirements may include COVID-19 testing, quarantine, and health declarations. Keep in mind that entry requirements can change, so stay updated with the latest information from official sources.
b. Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing comprehensive travel insurance that covers COVID-19-related expenses, including medical treatment and trip cancellations. Verify the policy’s coverage and understand how to make a claim in case of emergencies.
c. Accommodation and Activity Reservations: Due to limited capacity at accommodations and attractions, it’s advisable to book your accommodations and activities well in advance. Popular tourist spots and resorts may have restrictions on visitor numbers to ensure social distancing, so plan accordingly.
2. Getting to the Andamans:
a. Flights: Most travelers reach the Andamans by air, with the Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair being the primary gateway. Airlines have implemented various safety measures, including mask mandates, enhanced cleaning protocols, and reduced in-flight services. Check with your airline for specific COVID-19 policies and guidelines.
b. Health Screening Upon Arrival: Upon arriving in Port Blair, travelers may undergo health screening, including temperature checks and a health declaration. Be prepared to provide the necessary information and cooperate with any local health protocols.
3. Accommodation Selection:
a. Hygiene and Safety Protocols: When choosing your accommodation, prioritize places that have implemented stringent hygiene and safety protocols. Most hotels and resorts have adopted enhanced cleaning practices to ensure guest safety.
b. Contactless Check-In/Out: Many accommodations offer contactless check-in and check-out options to minimize physical contact. Take advantage of these services to enhance your safety.
4. Local Guidelines and Safety Measures:
a. Mask Wearing and Social Distancing: Follow local guidelines regarding mask-wearing and social distancing. These measures are in place to protect both visitors and local residents.
b. Curfews and Restrictions: Stay informed about any curfews or restrictions imposed by local authorities. These measures may change depending on the COVID-19 situation in the region.
5. Activities and Attractions:
a. Outdoor Activities: Choose outdoor activities and attractions that naturally allow for social distancing. The Andamans offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures, such as hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and exploring pristine beaches.
b. Visit Timings: Check the operating hours and visitor capacity limits of popular attractions and plan your visits accordingly. Some places may require advance reservations to manage crowd flow effectively.
6. Water Activities:
a. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving: The Andamans are renowned for their vibrant marine life. If you plan to snorkel or scuba dive, ensure that you use your personal equipment or sanitized rental gear. Follow safety guidelines provided by dive operators.
b. Water Sports: Participate in water sports, such as kayaking and paddleboarding, while adhering to safety measures. Sanitize equipment before and after use to minimize the risk of transmission.
7. Dining and Food Safety:
a. Restaurant Protocols: Choose restaurants that follow strict hygiene protocols. Many establishments have reduced seating capacity to ensure social distancing during dining.
b. In-Room Dining and Takeout: Consider in-room dining or takeout options if you prefer to minimize your exposure in public dining areas. Many restaurants offer these services for added convenience.
a. Local Transport: When using local transportation, such as auto-rickshaws or taxis, ensure that drivers and passengers wear masks. Opt for vehicles with good ventilation, and keep windows open whenever possible.
b. Rental Vehicles: If renting a vehicle, disinfect touchpoints like steering wheels and door handles before use. Carry hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for personal use.
9. Health and Safety:
a. Emergency Contacts: Carry a list of emergency contacts, including local health authorities and the contact information for your country’s embassy or consulate in case of emergencies.
b. Personal Hygiene: Maintain good personal hygiene throughout your trip. Frequent handwashing, the use of hand sanitizer, and proper mask usage are essential practices.
c. COVID-19 Testing: Be prepared for the possibility of COVID-19 testing, especially if you exhibit symptoms or have been in close contact with a confirmed case during your visit.