Bermuda to go on UK green list as incorrect website information is amended
Bermuda will be placed on the UK’s green travel list at the end of this month, the British Government confirmed yesterday.
The change in status, which comes into effect on Wednesday, June 30, means travellers to Britain from Bermuda will no longer have to quarantine for ten days on arrival.
Meanwhile Government has updated travel advisory information on its website that had resulted in residents being banned from boarding flights home.
Under the UK’s green code status, travellers from Bermuda to the UK aged five or older must take a Covid-19 test on or before day 2 after arrival.
Travellers must quarantine if NHS Test & Trace informs them that they travelled to England with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.
Bermuda was one of 16 countries that will be moved from the amber list to green.
Last night David Burt, the Premier, said the news from London was “welcome”.
He said: “Over the last few months, the Government and people of Bermuda have made sacrifices and worked hard to decrease the number of positive coronavirus cases on the Island.”
Mr Burt praised health department staff who “worked tirelessly to help reduce the number of positive cases in Bermuda”.
But he added: “It is necessary that we continue to keep strong protections at our borders to minimise the importation of new variants.
“The world is still in the midst of a global pandemic, and local tourism jobs depend on residents remaining vigilant and doing our part to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus on our shores.”
The island has recorded just a handful of Covid-19 cases in the past month. The World Health Organisation upgraded Bermuda’s status to “sporadic cases” earlier this week.
But there is still uncertainty over whether the highly contagious Delta strain of the virus has been detected in Bermuda.
Last Friday Kim Wilson, the health minister, said that testing “indicates that the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in India, has been identified in Bermuda”.
She added: “While we are still seeking confirmation of this preliminary finding, this variant was detected on arrival testing, with all isolation and contact tracing conducted as per standard protocols.”
Since then Government has not responded to inquiries over whether or not the sample has been confirmed as the Delta variant.
But in an opinion article in today’s Royal Gazette, Lindsay Simmons, a Government senator, said that the virus was here.
Senator Simmons wrote: “Delta is now the dominant Covid spreading in the UK, one of our key source markets. This highly contagious and dangerous variant is now here in Bermuda.”
While travelling to the UK will become more convenient, residents wishing to return home were still facing problems and confusion.
The Royal Gazette has been contacted by residents who said they had been barred from boarding flights home by airline officials because they did not have complete travel authorisations – even though Government has stated that it is illegal for Bermudians to be refused entry to the island.
Yesterday, one resident explained that he missed his return flight from Boston on Tuesday because his negative test result was not e-mailed to him by the time he had to check in for his flight.
The resident, who asked not to be named, said that he and his wife flew to Boston on Saturday for a weekend break.
The couple had been vaccinated and took Covid-19 tests the day before they left, receiving negative results.
They took a second test the day they arrived in Boston.
But when they prepared to leave on Tuesday morning, the results of that test had still not been sent to them, and they were unable to get Travel Authorisation from the Bermuda Government.
The resident said: “The process seems so flawed. It is designed to reject everything or put applications into a holding ‘need more information’ queue’.
“No one seems to know what the rules are and everyone is very confused.
“I spent four-and-a-half hours on the phone to the travel authorisation department and was disconnected three times – the whole computer system was crashing.
“The JetBlue staff at the gate were great, they were very sympathetic, but even they were saying that they didn’t know what was going on in Bermuda and that the rules were changing every day.
The couple’s test results were finally delivered on Tuesday afternoon and they were able to return to Bermuda yesterday.
Susan Jackson, a One Bermuda Alliance MP, told The Royal Gazette that she received a call from an 86-year-old constituent calling from an airport on the US east coast who was barred from boarding his flight.
Ms Jackson said: “This gentleman had gone overseas for a few days to get medical treatment.
“He had a negative test before he travelled and a second negative test while he was at the hospital overseas. He thought that was all he needed – he didn’t know anything about a Travel Authorisation document.”
Ms Jackson called the health department and was able to resolve the problem just before the senior’s flight departed.
She said: “This man was humbled to nothing. He was told that he was going to have to go and stay in a hotel in a city that he did not know.
“The problem is, some people are just not electronically savvy. It can be very difficult to navigate through the form, particularly if you’re not computer literate, and then have to get it printed off.”
A travel advisory page on Government’s website had previously stated that any traveller – including Bermudians and residents – would not be allowed to travel if they had not obtained a Travel Authorisation notice.
The page was amended yesterday and now states that, while visitors without the notice risked “repatriation to the gateway city”, residents will be allowed to travel but face a $1,000 fine on arrival.