Public Guide Service

Are you concerned about how Aruba is handling the current global coronavirus pandemic threat?

Related to the current growing threat of the coronavirus that is spreading throughout the world, Comfort Rentals Aruba hereby provides you with this relevant and daily updated publication by Prestige Vacations Aruba. Comfort Rentals Aruba is a wholly-owned subsidiary and a vacation rental affiliate of Prestige Vacations Aruba. Therefore, all information and policies provided in this publication are also integrally and equally underwritten by Comfort Rentals Aruba.

Rising Concern about COVID-19

There is generally a rising concern among travelers about the spread of the coronavirus throughout the world and how destination countries are handling the coronavirus threat; especially since January 30, 2020 when the World Health Organization (WHO) has proclaimed the novel virus COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).  And on March 11, 2020, the WHO finally made the assessment that “COVID-19 can be characterized as a Pandemic1. Many travelers who intend to visit Aruba in the nearby future may be asking themselves too, at least these three questions:

  • Can or should a traveler feel him- or herself safe when on Aruba?
  • How is the island actually handling this situation with regard to protecting its population from this increasing threat?
  • Are any prepaid funds for planned vacations in Aruba at risk?
Public service by Prestige

Prestige Vacations Aruba (Prestige) noticed that this same rising concern exists among Aruba-bound travelers too. Consequently, on February 29, 2020, Prestige has taken the initiative to (a) continuously analyze the most important official announcements and updates about the developments surrounding the coronavirus’ spread throughout the world, (b) closely monitor the actions taken by the local government in this regard, (c) adapted a commensurable Rebate Policy on Cancellation Fees and (d) as a public service, publish important findings and updates in summary format on this page. With this open summary publication, Prestige aims to properly inform the thousands of Prestige’s (already booked and potential) future guests and all other Aruba-bound travelers about the underlying issue and its consequences. Prestige provides due references and links to the official sources from which the herein summarized information is derived and pledges to on a daily basis procure for ongoing updates of policies, advisories and/or of any information published by these sources that are pertinent to this summarized publication.

Question 1: Are There Any Restrictive Travel Advisories for Aruba Because Of Coronavirus?

The vast majority of Aruba’s visitors is from North America, namely from the USA and Canada. The USA’s Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continuously issues and updates Travel Health Notices for certain countries where the CDC found reasons to warn or alert US residents about the health risks involved with traveling to such foreign countries. Similarly, Canada’s ‘Travel Advice and Advisories’ web page is the Government of Canada’s official source of destination-specific travel information about countries worldwide. Hence, both mentioned sources of travel advisories (by the CDC and by the Government of Canada) are very important for Aruba, as they may directly or indirectly affect the local tourism industry. On the other hand, the Government of Aruba may also issue travel advisories that restrict travel to Aruba from any other country.

Prestige hereby informs travelers that, as per the last update of this publication (see date at bottom of this article):
  • On March 15, 2020, at 8:15 pm, the Government of Aruba by means of Prime Minister Mrs. Eveline Wever-Croes, during a nationally live transmitted press conference, announced:
    – That the historical (first time, ever) preventive governmental measure of total inbound lock-down has been taken, which temporarily cancels/prohibits ALL inbound flights, with any non-resident passengers on board, to Aruba from ANY COUNTRY in the world, thus including flights from the USA, Canada, Europe and other Caribbean islands, between March 17, 2020, until March 31, 2020 (extended now until April 19, 2020);
    – Since March 13 up to March 27, 2020, there are 46 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Aruba, 45 of which are in isolation and 1 has fully recovered to healthy condition, has been released and returned to his country. Most of the cases that are still in isolation show relatively mild symptoms of the disease and are not hospitalized; only 1 patient is hospitalized because of increased symptoms but is not in critical condition. Contact tracing of all those who may have recently come in contact with mentioned confirmed cases, resulted into a few hundred persons who are currently in mandatory self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
    – 8 of the above confirmed cases are the initial travel-related locally confirmed infections detected before the total inbound lock-down took its effect, thus  are persons who e.g. recently traveled to Aruba from the USA. The other (later) confirmed cases are non-travel related cases since the total inbound lock-down, meaning these are on-island or local transmissions of the virus since its first detection on the island on March 13th.
    – March 27th: The total inbound lock-down period is extended until April 19, 2020. As of March 28, 2020 at midnight, the island’s total inbound lock-down will also apply to those residents of Aruba who are still abroad, meaning they too may not fly to Aruba for as long as the inbound lock-down is upheld. And all the more than 800 residents who already traveled to Aruba since March 17th to March 28th undergo a mandatory self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
    – The above drastic historical measure by the Government of Aruba is required in order to keep travel-related cases of coronavirus infection in Aruba limited to a minimum. 
  • On March 17, 2020, based on the island’s total inbound lock-down as announced by the Prime Minister of Aruba here above, an official statement to that effect has been published through Aruba’s Department of Foreign Affairs (see source # 2 below)  2
  • Pursuant to the island’s inbound lock-down and its period extension, airline companies have to cancel all flights to Aruba as of March 17, 2020 and, for now, at least until the extension date of April 19, 2020.  Some airlines in this regard have decided, or may decide, to preemptively cancel all flights to Aruba until a substantially later date than April 19, 2020, taking into account that the lock-down of Aruba “can be extended depending on the monitoring of COVID-19 status in Aruba during the upcoming weeks” 2
  • On March 13, 2020, two days after the WHO proclaimed the coronavirus as a pandemic, the Government of Canada issued an Official Global Travel Advisory, recommending its residents to “Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice“. Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisory for Aruba currently still remains to “take normal security precautions”, thereby literally defining this advisory for Aruba as: “There are no significant safety and security concerns. The overall safety and security situation is similar to that of Canada” 3 .
  • On March 12, 2020, one day after the WHO proclaimed the coronavirus as a pandemic, the CDC has issued Travel Health Notices for all countries and territories of the world, thereby – related to the coronavirus – categorizing countries only in either of the two highest travel health notice levels namely:
    – Warning Level 3 – CDC recommends that travelers Avoid Nonessential Travel to China, Iran, South Korea and specified countries in Europe.
    Alert Level 2 – CDC recommends that travelers Practice Enhanced Precautions if travelling to any country in the world other than those included in the higher Warning Level 3; thus, including Aruba 4.
  • On March 19, 2020, the US State Department issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel Proclamation, advising “U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19” 4

Sources:

  1. As per WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020.
  2. Statement – Government of Aruba – Department of Foreign Affairs – March 17, 2020  – Download the full statement about the island’s lock-down related to the coronavirus.
    Ministry of Health and Tourism of Aruba – Download the full issued statement of March 1, 2020, related to the coronavirus. For the Spanish version of same full statement, click here.
  3. Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories – Official source of destination-specific travel information, e.g. related to the coronavirus.
  4. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Alert Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Aruba, e.g. related to the coronavirus.
    US Department of State Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel Proclamation
  5. World Health Organization (WHO) – Find out more about countries that have coronavirus cases.
Question 2: What measures has Aruba taken to avoid, prevent or minimize the influx or spread of the coronavirus into its population?

The proper handling of the coronavirus threat cannot be done without taking strong measures. Aruba is one of the very few small-island communities in the world that have quickly – already since the end of February 2020 – taken aggressive actions to prevent or minimize the foreign influx of the COVID-19 virus into their relatively small populations. Introducing such far-going measures rapidly is a much greater challenge for larger countries. Thus, the rapid and aggressive actions taken by the Government of Aruba, thereby making good use of its small-island’s advantage in this case, should be surely applauded.

Prestige hereby informs travelers that, as per the last update of this publication (see date at bottom of this article), Aruba is handling the coronavirus threat by having the following measures in place:
  • As of March 17, 2020, all inbound visitors are restricted from entering the country of Aruba.
  • Flights carrying ONLY returning residents of Aruba, who are currently abroad, will be permitted to land during the island’s lock-down period. These returning residents will then be subject to a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine or isolation.
  • March 27th: This inbound travel restriction is extended to April 19, 202); however, this measure can be further extended depending on the monitoring of COVID-19 status in Aruba during the upcoming weeks.
  • March 23rd: Strong and unprecedented measures are taken on Aruba’s population too for as long as the island’s lock-down is upheld, in order to limit the local spread of the virus as well. This includes closing, among other: closing of schools, restaurants, etc.; cancelling of all public events; prohibiting social gatherings; ordering nightly curfew from 9 pm to 6 am, every day; daily mandatory business shut down after 8 pm.
  • March 27th: Overruling the previous curfew order, the Government of Aruba issued a mandatory “Shelter in Place” decree in effect as of March 28th at midnight and until April 19, 2020 at midnight. This decree stipulates that, outside of the ongoing daily curfew time slot that was introduced on March 23rd, thus only between 6 am and 9 pm daily, the following restrictions apply:
    – Residents may leave their home, 1 person at a time, only for essential matters such as to get groceries, to seek medical attention / fulfill a medical prescription or to protect oneself against any imminent danger;
    – Defined non-essential businesses must remain closed.
    – Only workers belonging to the ‘skeleton crew’ of businesses that are excluded from the defined non-essential  businesses, are allowed to go to work, and thereby must strictly maintain the given social distancing guidelines.
    – Residents may leave their home to drive, walk, jog  or recreate in public areas, but thereby must strictly maintain the given social distancing guidelines and know that any public gathering of more than 3 persons is strictly prohibited by governmental decree.
  • The Police Department will enforce the above issued governmental decreed restrictive stipulations to the maximum extent provided by law.
Question 3: If travel to Aruba becomes prohibitive for any reason related to the coronavirus, what will happen with the funds paid to Prestige for future bookings?

Prestige’s Fair Business Policy:
“When circumstances arise that were not realistically foreseen by both parties when the agreements were established, then the interest of the business and the interest of the customer must be equally considered“.

Please note: As per Prestige’s standard terms and conditions, Guests may cancel their booking at any moment in time. However, the Guest will then always forfeit the Cancellation Fee that is applicable at that point in time, which fee increases as the cancellation date gets closer to the booking’s arrival date.  For any overpaid amounts beyond the Cancellation Fee, Guests first and foremost maintain their rights to receive a (partial) cash “Refund” as per agreement. In such case, Guest will unquestionably receive the rightful amount refunded in cash (e.g., when the applicable Cancellation Fee is less than the total paid amounts at the moment of requesting cancellation). So, please know that the below “Rebate Value” options are offered in relation to only the inevitably applicable Cancellation Fee in accordance with Prestige’s standard terms and conditions.

For cases related to the coronavirus threat, Guests can rest assured that their paid amounts for future bookings are protected. The following paragraphs delineate Prestige’s Rebate Policy applied to reservation cancellation requests related to the coronavirus threat. Note: Whenever a national or international advisory on travel to Aruba is newly imposed, or an existing advisory is retracted, this Rebate Policy will be adjusted accordingly.

Prestige hereby guarantees its (already booked and potential) future guests that if any of the following cases matches the guest’s reason to cancel his/her booking, namely

– case (a)
the guest is either an elderly person or has a serious chronic medical condition (thus adhering to USA’s CDC advisory),
or
the guest is a US citizen (thus adhering to USA’s Department of State advisory),
or
if the country where the guest resides takes a national mandatory measure that prohibits all its residents from leaving that country or from travelling to Aruba (= total outbound lock-down) for a period that spans over the guest’s booked travel dates.

– case (b)
as the Government of Aruba has taken and meanwhile extended the restrictive measure to prohibit all inbound flights to Aruba from any country (=total inbound lock-down), and the guest’s booked arrival and/or departure date is between March 15 and April 19, 2020,
or
as because of the above measure taken by the Government of Aruba, the airline has cancelled or will have to cancel the guest’s  flight to Aruba (which can even be a flight that was scheduled for a date later than April 19, 2020),
or
if the county, municipality, city, province or state where the guest resides takes a regional mandatory measure that prohibits all its residents from leaving that region or from travelling to Aruba (= total outbound lock-down) for a period that spans over the guest’s booked travel dates,
or
if any member of a guest’s travel group is placed by their local authorities in mandatory quarantine or isolation related to coronavirus infection,

then:

  • If due to the occurrence of the mentioned case (a), a guest requests to cancel an existing booking, Prestige will grant to the guest a rebate value equivalent to 100% of the Cancellation Fee on the thus canceled future booking with Prestige. Note: Guest may be requested by Prestige to provide written medical validation of this case.
  • If due to the occurrence of the mentioned case (b), a guest requests to cancel an existing booking, Prestige will grant to the guest a rebate value equivalent to 100% of the Cancellation Fee on the thus canceled future booking with Prestige. Note: Guest may be requested by Prestige to provide written validation of this case.
  • This rebate value can then be used by the guest to make any new booking with Prestige for the same accommodation, within one (1) year after the date that such possible case (a) or (b) ceases to exist.

Unfortunately, even the travel insurance that guests may have – and non-refundable paid extra for! – to protect themselves against the foreseeable costs involved if they have to cancel their travel plans, most likely will NOT cover booking cancellation fees related to the coronavirus. For example, as published on its website on March 10, 2020, the multinational insurer American Insurance Group (AIG) declares that “Trip cancellation for concern or fear of travel associated with sickness, epidemic or pandemic, including Coronavirus, is not covered.”  9. Know that Clause 11 of Guests’ current Vacation Rental Agreement with Prestige similarly stipulates – among other – that Prestige will not “accept liability for any loss or damage caused by acts of God or other reasons beyond its control”. But nonetheless, irrespective whether future guests have – and hopefully are indeed covered by – travel insurance or not, but primarily to uphold its fair business policy: Prestige even in certain individual and personal cases, if related to the coronavirus situation, will mitigate the applicable Cancellation Fee as follows.

Prestige hereby guarantees its (already booked and potential) future guests that, even though neither of the previously mentioned cases (a) or (b) occurs, but if otherwise any of the following cases related to the coronavirus threat occurs, namely

– case (c) if the guest is involuntarily impeded from traveling (for more info, see Supplemental Information 1 below);

– case (d) if the guest voluntarily chooses to take self-impeding, precautionary measures at a personal level (for more info, see Supplemental Information 1 below),

then:

  • If due to the occurrence of mentioned case (c), a guest requests to cancel an existing booking, Prestige will grant to the guest a rebate value equivalent to 80% of the Cancellation Fee on the thus cancelled future booking with Prestige. Note: Guest will have to provide Prestige with a written and legitimate validation of this case, before becoming eligible for this rebate value.
  • If due to the occurrence of mentioned case (d), a guest requests to cancel an existing booking, Prestige will grant to the guest a rebate value equivalent to 50% of the Cancellation Fee on the thus cancelled future booking with Prestige.
  • This rebate value can then be used by the guest to make any new booking with Prestige for same accommodation, within one (1) year after the date on which the rebate was granted.

Supplemental Information 1.
At a personal level, some travelers may voluntarily choose to take self-impeding precautionary measures, for example by choosing to cancel their travel plans entirely without imminent official reasons or even choosing not to leave their home at all, or because they want to avoid any risk of becoming infected – for instance – when they are underway to Aruba.
On the other hand, related to the coronavirus travelers can also be involuntarily impeded from traveling, for example, because of an issued doctor’s instruction to refrain from travel, or because their employer won’t allow it, or because the traveler must adhere to a protective self-quarantine or isolation.
In any case, the standard Cancellation Fee remains applicable and the guests are then granted the indicated (partial) rebate value corresponding to either of the above described cases (c) or (d).

Sources:

  1. As per the official Coronavirus Advisory published by AIG on March 10, 2020.
Closing Statement by Prestige.

Please be aware that all vacation rental properties managed by Prestige, are individually owned. The business of Prestige is to operate as a trustworthy and professional intermediary between Prestige’s most important and only two types of clients: namely, between the Guests and the Accommodation Owners.

The answer to “Question 3” (= the newly introduced Rebate Policy, read it here above) relies fully on Prestige’s Fair Business Policy that is applied when “a circumstance has arisen that was not realistically foreseen when the (vacation rental) agreement was established between parties (e.g., the Guest and the Accommodation Owner)”, which is certainly how the current coronavirus situation can be described.

On February 29, 2020, Prestige has thus proactively created and published the above new Rebate Policy, thereby trying to imagine (?) all possible scenarios of cancellations related to the coronavirus pandemic, and thereby offering on ALL applied cancellation fees (depending on each case) a rebate value varying from 50% up to 100% of the applied cancellation fee. Many Guests (e.g. from the USA and Canada) to date are still choosing not to cancel their future travel plans and will come to enjoy their vacation in Aruba if still possible. For those Guests who decide to (or, due to restrictions, have to) cancel or postpone their future travel plans, please know that we do have full understanding of their personal, regional, national or international motives. Bear in mind though that – were it not for the above new Rebate Policy  – only the standard Cancellation Policy would be applicable as per rental agreement which, in short, would mean:

Upon cancellation, the Guest would forfeit all sums that were already paid according to the standard Payment Schedule (= either 20%, 50% or 100%), with NO refund or rebate.

The above Rebate Policy classifies each coronavirus-related cancellation into one of four ‘rationally’ imaginable and predefined cases (a), (b), (c) or (d), in descending order of the actual impediment that prevents the guest from traveling to Aruba, and grants for each case a corresponding mitigating rebate value. These case definitions are redefined (or corresponding rebate values are adjusted) as soon as any international or national advisory related the coronavirus is issued or retracted. Of course, in view of their specific individual situation, a few Guests and Accommodation Owners may still not be fully agreeable with the case definitions and/or the mitigating rebate value that is applied on their specific cancellation request or booking. For these clients, please know that Prestige is regretfully unable to deviate from this new policy to address each individual or personal case differently than is acceptable for both parties of the vacation rental agreement.

Prestige can only once again emphasize that the above Rebate Policy has been created fully in the spirit of our Fair Business Policy where “the interest of the Guest, the interest of the Accommodation Owner and the interest of the business are equally considered.”

This publication is compiled and updated by
Prestige Vacations Aruba
Last Update: March 28, 2020

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