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OBA calls on Premier to relax travel regulations

Michael Dunkley (File photograph)

The Opposition has called for Covid-19 travel regulations to be relaxed, insisting that the island’s border could still be protected with less stringent measures.

Michael Dunkley, the shadow national security minister, said controversial Travel Authorisation forms (TAF) – which Government had insisted every traveller must have when entering Bermuda – were “cumbersome”, and unnecessary.

Mr Dunkley said that a negative test result should be the only document arrivals needed for entry.

He spoke out after Government barred residents from returning home unless they had the Travel Authorisation form.

David Burt, the Premier, was forced to backtrack after the Opposition said it was illegal.

But airline personnel continued to bar passengers boarding Bermuda-bound flights after Government failed to update the rules on its website.

Mr Dunkley said: “The One Bermuda Alliance suggests that now it is time to consider eliminating the TAF, and the expense involved with it, and instead have a policy similar to the US where before boarding a plane to the island the traveller will have to show a valid negative PCR test and, if vaccinated, a vaccination certificate.

“Since Father's Day weekend many Bermudians, residents and visitors to the island, have been subjected to challenges completing the travel authorisation form. This has caused undue stress, anxiety and, at the very least, extra hassle on the journey to Bermuda.”

Mr Dunkley said that travellers had experienced needless and unnecessary challenges “due to changes by the PLP Government that were not implemented properly”.

He asked: “How could a new policy be implemented and the Government website not be updated?”

He added: “The PLP Government should have expected issues if any changes were not done properly. After all, the form became more cumbersome and, with more people travelling, the system would naturally be under more pressure due to the increased TAF applications.

“It is unacceptable that people have had to endure stress over the past ten days or so and it is concerning that those who man the hotline were not available to deal with the increased calls.

“Sadly, the PLP has to date only taken triage measures such as updating the website days after the changes took place and announcing this week that Bermuda Tourism Authority staff will be at JFK in New York to help.

“We can and we must do better than this.”

Mr Dunkley said Government was failing to listen to public concerns.

He said: “On the heels of great concern about quarantine paid for by travellers who are not vaccinated, these recent changes were enacted sloppily to say the least.”

Mr Dunkley said that a negative test result produced when boarding, and then testing on arrival “still protects our borders”, particularly if it is backed up with further testing on Day 4, 8, and 14.

He said: “The One Bermuda Alliance is willing to discuss this viable suggestion with the Government in the best interest of Bermuda and work collaboratively to find solutions.

“People are tired, fed up and now questioning many of the government policies. The OBA has always been willing to work with the Government, especially through the pandemic. Let's work together for the good of our island home.”

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Published June 30, 2021 at 7:54 am (Updated June 30, 2021 at 7:54 am)

OBA calls on Premier to relax travel regulations

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