The Dominican Republic plans to eliminate the entry requirement for proof of a negative Covid-19 test this fall.

In its place will be rapid tests, including a Breathalyzer-style test, that will be performed on randomly selected travelers upon arrival, according to a statement from the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism.

The results are obtained immediately. The test, which takes about five minutes, detects if a traveler has been exposed or infected within the last four hours.

Those who test positive at the airport are taken to a designated area within their hotel for quarantine and remain under a protocol of care and regular testing until symptoms are gone.

Hotels will have health care units and medical personnel to carry out tests and further screenings.

The negative Covid test requirement remains valid until the new measure takes effect at the end of September and is part of the government's new initiative called The Plan for the Responsible Recovery of Tourism.

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Other measures include mandatory use of masks and social distancing during a visitor's stay and a comprehensive health and travel insurance plan that will cover hospitalization for coronavirus in the DR, telemedicine services and costs for extended hotel stays and airline ticket changes in the event of a Covid-19 infection. The insurance will be provided at no cost to the visitor until December and will be paid by the DR.

In addition, hotel employees will be tested regularly and will follow a specific protocol when entering or leaving a resort. 

The plan also calls for internationally certified health management protocols to ensure the health, welfare and safety of locals and visitors and will apply to the entire industry, including restaurants and bars, according to tourism minister David Collado.

"We're focused on driving continuous growth for the tourism sector, along with our country's image, to ensure that the Dominican Republic remains the number one destination in the region for international travelers," Collado said.

The minister reported that the country stands to lose $2.5 billion in tourism revenues this year. In July, the first month after the airports reopened, on July 1, arrivals stood at approximately 54,000 compared with 488,000 arrivals in February, just before the pandemic was declared. Current hotel occupancy is at 5%, according to Collado.

"Our goal is to restore tourism to 400,000 travelers a month by December," he said.

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