Last update: 19 October 2020
This information is compiled by the Public Entity of Bonaire, in cooperation with the department of Public Health. This overview will be kept as up to date as possible.
Developments with respect to COVID-19 are unpredictable, and therefore, circumstances can change. Please keep an eye out for our press releases via Facebook (Openbaar Lichaam Bonaire) and other Bonaire news outlets.
No rights can be derived from the information in this FAQ overview.
COVID-19 tests and test policy
What is the policy on testing for COVID-19 when visiting or living in Bonaire?
A COVID-19 PCR test will be performed when a person suffers from any of the following symptoms:
- a nasal cold
- a runny nose
- a sore throat
- shortness of breath
- elevated temperature
- sudden loss of smell and/or taste.
All persons with respiratory symptoms are requested to isolate themselves until the tests results are known.
What are the requirements for the COVID-19 test before departure to Bonaire?
Incoming travelers 13 years and older need to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before departure. This requirement has been installed in order to protect the public health of inhabitants of Bonaire.
The following requirements have been set for these tests:
- Only PCR test results are valid. A smear is taken from the nose and throat with a cotton swab.
- An accredited laboratory should perform the test.
- The test result should be no older than 72 hours before departure to Bonaire.
- You will only be allowed entry on Bonaire if the test result is negative.
Where can I have a COVID-19 PCR test done in the netherlands?
There are a number of different places where you can have a COVID-19 PCR test done in The Netherlands, such as:
- KLM health services
- The laboratory of your general practitioner
- Saltro laboratory
Tests administered by other accredited laboratories are also permitted, as long as they provide a written or digital confirmation of the result.
Is a PCR test mandatory before I travel to Bonaire?
You are required to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before departure to Bonaire. In the event you arrive on Bonaire without a test result, you are required to go into quarantine in a quarantine location that will be appointed to you by the Bonairean authorities, at your own cost. This is due to the small size of the island and the available health care capacity in the region.
In the health declaration form you need to state if you have had a COVID-19 PCR test done within 72 hours before departure, and what the result of the test was.
I have read that commercial tests could come out positive if you had corona 3 months previously; is this correct?
Bonaire accepts only results form tests executed by an accredited laboratory. This will limit the possibility of false positives. In the event of a positive result of a PCR test, please contact your general practitioner or the public health authority in your country, and follow their instructions.
Which number could I call when I have COVID-19 related symptoms and what happens next?
If you suffer from any of the following symptoms:
- a nasal cold
- a runny nose
- a sore throat
- shortness of breath
- elevated temperature
- sudden loss of smell and/or taste,
you should contact the Public Health Department on 0 800 – 0 800. Follow their instructions. If they confirm your symptoms, they will organize a COVID-19 test. It is important to self-isolate in the event of respiratory complaints. This entails staying at home, not receiving visitors and limiting contact with your household members to a minimum.
Does it make sense to get tested while I have no symptoms?
No, because this does not provide any reliable result. Today the test result may be negative and then the next day it may be positive. A test is only useful if you have any signs or symptoms. In that case a test may indicate that the symptoms are caused by the coronavirus.
There are children with symptoms that could be related to the coronavirus, but they are not getting tested. Why is that?
It is not the case that the Public Health department does not want to test children. If it is necessary children will certainly be tested. However, the test is very unpleasant, especially for small children and that is why we are only testing them if it is really necessitated. Whether testing is necessary is decided jointly with the parents and if needed it is discussed with the family doctor. It depends on the type of symptoms the child is having and whether it had already been in quarantine (and therefore posed no risk to others). In addition we examine whether other family members have symptoms, whether they have been tested or may be tested. Sometimes during this process it becomes evident whether the child has COVID-19 or not . What the Public Health Department deems to be vital is that the child receives proper care and that it does not pose any risk to others.
Why are you not communicating how many tests are administered every day?
We are not withholding any figures. It is easy to calculate how many tests are administered using the data we publish each day.
Where can people who want to travel abroad get tested for the virus?
On Bonaire it is not possible to get tested if you do not have any symptoms. All tests are administered by the Public Health Department. There are no commercial companies on the island that can administer the test. In actual fact, it is not necessary to get tested to travel abroad from Bonaire.
What is the procedure after you make an appointment to get tested?
After you phone the Call Center and make an appointment, the test is usually administered the following morning. On the day of the appointment you will need to drive to the Public Health Department’s test location opposite the stadium at Kaya Gilberto F. Croes number 24. Please wear a face mask and bring tissues. When you arrive, the test procedure will be explained to you and then the test will be administered. This will take a few minutes. After the test you should drive straight home. Do not stop at the supermarket but drive straight home. You must remain at home until you are called with the test result. Usually it takes about three days until you receive that call.
Are people tested at the end of their quarantine period?
No, they are not tested. If someone has not developed any symptoms after 14 days of quarantine, you may assume that that person is not infected.
Questions on the risk of COVID-19 contamination
How high is the risk for a contaminated person to enter Bonaire, based on the current measures?
An estimate on the risk of a COVID-19 contamination introduction on Bonaire is made based on the epidemiological situation in the country or state of origin of the travelers. The risk of COVID-19 introduction is obviously higher through a tourist from high prevalence countries than from low prevalence countries.
To limit the change that a COVID-19 contaminated travellers enters Bonaire, we have:
- limited the number of low prevalence countries for COVID-19 from which it is allowed to travel to Bonaire,
- made it compulsory for each traveler to submit a health declaration form within 48 hours before departure,
- require all travelers 13 years or older to take a COVID-19 PCR test, within 72 hours before departure.
These measures will ensure an acceptable risk level in relationship to the health care capacity on Bonaire that a contaminated traveller enters Bonaire.
i have been in contact with a person that tested positive for covid-19: what do i need to do?
I you have been within 1.5 meter for longer than 15 minutes of this person, please stay at home and call 0800 – 0800 for further advice.
If you have been within 1.5 meter less than 15 minutes of this person, please call 0800 – 0800 for further advice.
There are certain groups of people more at risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus. Are children at risk of infection?
Children and youngsters do not often get infected with the novel coronavirus. Also, they usually do not really get very sick. This is why they are not a special risk group. For a young person to infect an adult is relatively rare.
Corona patients have been admitted to hospital. Is it safe for me to go to the hospital?
It is safe to go to the hospital. Patients with Covid-19 are admitted to special isolation rooms. Other patients are not at risk of becoming infected. The hospital staff is well trained and also used to working with patients with infectious diseases.
How does someone know they have been cured of the coronavirus?
A person who had the virus is declared to be cured when: They feel well again and have had no health problems for 24 hours and it has been more than 7 days since the symptoms occurred. You can only be declared cured in consultation with a nurse from the Public Health Department.
Travelers who want to come to Bonaire from countries such as the Netherlands have to have a PCR test at least 72 hours in advance. What are the risks that someone will still get infected during those three days before departure?
It is possible for someone to get infected during those three days. But most of the infected people are intercepted by the PCR test. Most travelers really don’t want to get sick during their vacation, so they will typically observe the rules properly during those last days before departure. Once they are on Bonaire, travelers also have to abide by the rules. After all, if they do not watch out and do not follow the rules they may also get infected on Bonaire.
Some people do not have any symptoms but still test positive. These people are called asymptomatic carriers. What are the risks of these people infecting others on Bonaire?
People who have no symptoms and test positive, may develop symptoms during a couple of days after they have had the test. That is the reason why they are placed in isolation for three days, just in case. If they develop symptoms after this period they must remain in isolation for longer. If they do not develop any symptoms during their three-day isolation or after that, the risk that they are in fact infected is very small.
How long does it take before symptoms appear after you have become infected with the corona virus?
It takes between 2 to 14 days before you get symptoms after you have been infected with the coronavirus.
What do we know about being contagious during the incubation period?
The incubation period is the period of time between the moment a person is infected and the moment they become ill. The novel coronavirus is transmitted by coughing and sneezing. A person is contagious from the moment they start to have symptoms. Research has shown, however, that a person may be contagious for up to as many as two days before they start displaying any symptoms. We do know that the sicker a person feels, the more likely they are to spread the virus.
Why are people encouraged to stay at home, given most infections take place at home?
Most infections occur at work or during private gatherings such as parties. Many infections do occur at home as well. Unfortunately, this cannot be prevented, since people living together have close contact with each other. Even if people are not at home during the day, they come home at the end of the day. As mentioned before, most infections take place at work or during private gatherings. That is why people have been asked to work from home as much as possible. If people want to get together, there can be no more than 10 people present and everyone must keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other at all times. This will prevent people from taking the coronavirus home and infecting others there.
Why is it allowed to visit elderly people in a home, surely they are an especially vulnerable group?
It is true that the elderly are a vulnerable group, which must be protected as much as possible. Everyone must keep 1.5 meters distance from each other, observe good hygiene and stay at home when symptomatic. These rules are extra important for the elderly. Accordingly, homes for the elderly are taking extra measures to provide extra safety. If the elderly were prevented from receiving visitors, however, this would be detrimental to their quality of life. This is the reason why the Public Health Department does not prohibit visits to the elderly. Elderly people may, of course, decide for themselves that they do not want to receive visitors for a while. Or people may decide that they won’t visit elderly people at the present time. Homes for the elderly may also put other measures in place themselves, such as limiting the number of visits per resident. In such cases the residents and visitors will be informed about these additional rules.
Why are patients in the Fundashon Mariadal Hospital not allowed to have visitors and the Kas di Kuido residents are allowed to have (a limited number of) visitors?
Elderly people living at Kas di Kuido do so on a permanent basis and family visits are important for them, otherwise they may feel lonely. Patients usually only stay in the hospital for a short time. The Hospital wants to prevent the virus from being passed on to patients as much as possible so it has decided that patients are not allowed to receive visitors.
Quarantaine and isolation in relation to covid-19
When do you need to go into quarantine in your own home or at your vacation address and when do you need to go to a central quarantine facility?
Travelers coming from low risk COVID-19 countries, that have no symptoms and are without further specifics, do not have to go into quarantine upon arrival on Bonaire.
The following persons will need to go into quarantine:
- Travelers that were staying in a high-risk country 14 days prior to arriving on Bonaire, need to go into quarantine for 14 days, immediately upon arrival, in a central quarantine location, at their own costs. Please note that this does not mean that it is allowed to travel to Bonaire from a high-risk country.
- if someone in your household or a travel companion or someone else that you have been in close contact with, tested positive for COVID-19. The quarantine will be at your home, at your holiday address or in a designated quarantine location, depending on the reason for the quarantine and the circumstances at your (vacation) address.
In cooperation with the hotels on Bonaire, a hotel has been appointed as the central quarantine location.
Travellers to Bonaire need to be aware that the costs associated with having to go into quarantine will be charged to them.
When will you need to go into isolation and can you go into isolation at home or your holiday address?
When you experience COVID-19 symptoms, you will be asked to stay inside and limit contact with your household members as much ass possible. This is called isolation. You are requested to contact the Public Health department in Bonaire 0 800 – 13 51. They will arrange a PCR test.
Isolation takes place at your holiday address, in your hotel room, or in your own home or in a designated location if your holiday address is not suitable for isolation. In cooperation with the hotels on Bonaire, a hotel has been appointed as the central isolation location. This location will also be used for persons of whom the home situation of the holiday address is not suited for isolation.
Non-residents of Bonaire need to pay for the costs involved with isolation. Residents of Bonaire are covered for these costs through the ZVK insurance.
Who will pay for the costs when i test positive for COVID-19 or have to stay in quarantine?
In case you need to go into quarantine, you are responsible for any related costs.
In case you will need to go in isolation, this might be medical costs: these costs might be reimbursed by your medical insurance depending on the conditions of your insurance company.
Residents of Bonaire, insured by ZVK, will be reimbursed for the costs of isolation.
It is recommended to check with your insurance company which costs will be reimbursed.
What about quarantine if one person within a family gets infected? Will that person be isolated and will the rest of the family be quarantined? Or will the whole family remain in quarantine in the same house?
The Public Health Department evaluates each situation separately. It is more comfortable for an infected person to go into isolation at home. Sometimes, however, it is not safe to go into isolation at home, in which case a family will be split up and one or more family members will go into central quarantine.
Travelers from the Netherlands who cannot provide a PCR test proving they do not have corona, must go into home quarantine upon arrival. Is it possible to properly keep an eye on such travelers at their holiday address?
Travelers, who have not had a test before traveling, have to be quarantined in a central location upon arrival, they do not go into home quarantine. In a central quarantine location it is easier to check up on travelers and ensure they are following the rules.
What happens with travelers who develop symptoms while they are in quarantine and are tested positive?
Those travelers will receive the same medical care as everyone else. Our health care does not differentiate between people. As long as travelers have symptoms and have not recovered yet, they will remain in isolation. They are not allowed to travel back home until clear of the virus.
A person is in quarantine and tests negative for corona. Is this person allowed to move about freely again or must they complete the 14 days of isolation?
Someone who is in quarantine must stay there up to 14 days after their last contact with an infected individual even if they test negative in the meantime. Should this person move about freely, others would be at risk. The Public Health Department issues specific warnings to such people and explains to them why they need to stay in quarantine. If someone who is not in quarantine tests negative they may move about freely after they have received their result.
What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
Healthy people go into quarantine and people who have tested positive go into isolation. Healthy people go into quarantine for 14 days after they have been in contact with someone who is infected with the virus. Someone who is infected with the virus goes into isolation. Infected persons will remain in isolation as long as they have symptoms. They will be able to leave isolation if they have been isolated for at least 7 days and have not had any symptoms for 24 hours.
Behavior and prevention
Basic rules that need to be followed by everybody in Bonaire
- Maintain 1.5 meters distance from other people that are not your household members
- Wash your hands often with soap and water; use only hand disinfectant in case water or soap in not available
- Do not touch your face with your hands
- Do not shake hands
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
- Use paper tissues to blow your nose and discard them after use
- Stay home. Work from home, do not go to school, do not go outside for shopping, should you answer the following questions positively:
- Have you experienced the last 24 hours or currently one of the following symptoms: a nasal cold, a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath, elevated temperature, fever, sudden loss of smell and/or taste?
- Have you had the new corona virus (identified by a laboratory test) and has this been diagnosed the last 7 days?
- Do you have a household member that is diagnosed with the new corona virus (identified by a laboratory test, and have you been in contact with that person when they were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?
- Are you currently in quarantine because you were in direct contact with someone identified with the corona virus?
- Have you traveled during the past 14 days to countries not being Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and Luxemburg?
When should I wear a facemask?
You have to wear a facemask in Bonaire when it is not possible to keep the 1,5 meters distance from people that are not direct household members. In addition, you will need to wear a facemask in the airplane, while arriving at or departing from Flamingo Bonaire International Airport and during the transportation to your holiday address.
When do I have to stay at home because of the coronavirus?
To stop the spread of the coronavirus we all have stay at home as much as possible at the moment. People who definitely should stay at home are: patients with Covid-19; members of a household with a Covid-19 patient; people who have been in close contact with a Covid-19 patient and are in quarantine; people who have been in areas where the coronavirus is prevalent; people who have symptoms and have signed up for a test. For more information see: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/health-problems-do-the-corona-check/
Is it allowed for people to dance at hospitality establishments and are musical bands allowed to perform again?
No, to have predetermined seats is one of the rules in the hospitality sector . The idea is that people should move about as little as possible. Musical groups may not give concerts at the moment and dance events are prohibited. Musical bands are allowed to provide background music only.
How do I use a face mask correctly?
Guidelines have been written on how to use a face mask correctly, you will find instructions at: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/communication/ in the document: Advice on Face Masks. But be aware; keeping 1.5 meters distance is still the most important way to prevent the virus from spreading. If you really cannot keep your distance, such as in a bus, car, departure hall, etc. then you must wear a face mask.
Which COVID rules does the Public Health Department impose on companies and other organizations?
These are the COVID-19 rules for companies and organizations as determined by the Public Health Department: Everyone must obey the rule of keeping 1.5 meters distance from each other. In companies and organizations, everyone must wash their hands with soap and water regularly. Everyone must sneeze or cough into their elbow. If someone has symptoms they must go home and stay there. They should then phone the Public Health Call Center at 0800-0800 (8 a.m.-10 p.m.) to make an appointment for a test. Companies and other organizations must ensure that employees and visitors are able to keep 1.5 meters distance from each other and that they can wash their hands regularly. It is also important to clean the premises properly: buildings have to be cleaned properly every day with extra attention to the surfaces that people frequently touch with their hands, such as door knobs. There is no need to disinfect the building. It is important to air all work areas properly by letting fresh air in. Do not, therefore, keep all windows closed, but ventilate the room well, even if you are using an air conditioner. Some air conditioners only cool the air, they do not refresh it. In this case, it is better to switch off the air conditioner twice a day and let fresh air in for at least 15 minutes. Obviously, these are the general rules. Customizing these rules to each specific situation remains important, for example in the health care sector.
How long should someone with a cold or with an elevated body temperature stay at home to recover?
Someone with a cold or with an elevated body temperature should stay at home and get tested. If the test result is negative that person may return to their normal routine unless the symptoms increase or change. In which case that person should contact the family doctor or call 0800-0800 for a new test.
I am pregnant, should I be especially concerned?
No. The course of the infection with the virus is the same in pregnant women as in non-pregnant women. Pregnant women infected with the virus are not at greater risk of a miscarriage. There is also not a greater chance of the baby having any birth defects. This is what scientists know so far.
What is the advice for people with other health problems (asthma, COPD- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes etc.)?
For these people the rules for the prevention of corona are extra important! Keep your distance. Wash your hands regularly. Stay far away from people who are ill or people with respiratory complaints. For more information see: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/health-problems-do-the-corona-check/
Get a flu shot in October/November.
If you have a weak immune system, how can you strengthen it to reduce the risk of infection?
It is important to be in good shape. There are no drugs that will increase your resistance. Live healthy. Eat healthy. Get enough sleep. Get enough exercise.
The hospital on Bonaire has a lot of attention and time for corona cases. What happens if the hospital can no longer admit other patients as a result of that?
The hospital devotes its full attention and time to all its patients, whether they have corona or not. Regular medical care is certainly not at risk at the moment. The hospital can handle a large amount of corona-related admissions while the care of other patients continues as usual. If we can no longer admit other patients because we have a lot of corona patients in our hospital, we have agreements with the other islands in our vicinity. In addition, we strive to enforce measures within society in order to reduce the number of infections, i.e. the number of sick people.
What is the best way to air my work area? I am concerned that the air conditioner could spread the virus.
It is important to air all work areas properly by letting fresh air in. Do not, therefore, keep all windows closed, but ventilate the room well, even if you are using an air conditioner. Some air conditioners only cool the air, they do not refresh it. In this case, it is better to switch off the air conditioner twice a day and let fresh air in for at least 15 minutes.
Why have face masks become mandatory in a number of situations, when it was often stated before that face masks were not necessary?
Keeping 1.5 meters distance from each other offers better protection against the virus than using face masks. That is why we indicated in the past that the use of masks is not necessary. In practice, it appears that people are actually less careful about keeping their distance when they are wearing face masks. This is exactly what we do not want to have happen. There are a few circumstances, however, when it is impossible to keep a 1.5 meter distance such as: on public transport, on the bus and at work for people with contact professions (physiotherapists, hairdressers etc.). In situations such as these it is mandatory to wear masks and it is important to strictly follow the hygiene rules. This prevents people from infecting each other in such situations.