A matter of opinion or political gain?
“Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees.”
One of the most extraordinary things in life is to look beyond one’s immediate surroundings to gain wider perspectives and a broader knowledge base.
For example, a law student tends to study aspects of criminal law, commercial law, and family law in order to have broad skill sets.
Likewise, in sport, many players have played in more than one position to be a better all-rounder. For example, Sir Garfield Sobers was a great cricketer in fielding, bowling and batting.
In the above examples, persons took the initiative to look beyond their immediate surroundings to enhance their personal and professional growth.
In many islands, persons have adopted an insular view towards issues surrounding Covid-19, vaccines and related mitigation measures.
On June 29, 2021, Michael Dunkley, the former premier, stated the following:
“The One Bermuda Alliance suggests that now it is time to consider eliminating the Travel Authorisation Form…”
One has to wonder if this is his opinion, or if he is simply attempting to gain a bit of popularity with a particular segment of voters?
I suspect it is the popularity angle that he is going for.
Because, as someone who travels, Mr Dunkley would know that every single country requires some form of TA form.
While there may be different things needed in order to fulfil all of the requirements of the form, the basic premise is that documents are required for effective border control.
In the United States Virgin Islands, one has to submit to a Covid test within four days of travel. They also have to list where they are planning on staying.
In the British Virgin Islands, one has to submit a negative Covid test result, their intended place of stay, countries visited prior, and proof of medical insurance.
In Puerto Rico, one has to submit a negative Covid test result or vaccination card, and fill out an electronic form. If you do not submit a negative test or proof of vaccination, you are subject to a $300 fine .
Essentially, each island has its own set of requirements for entering its borders.
So, for Mr Dunkley and the OBA to demand that we do away with these requirements is either idle political chatter, or an attempt at getting the Government to drop effective border control during the rise of the Delta variant.
Now, as for the forms themselves, unfortunately there have been some major glitches along the way that have irritated and inconvenienced both locals and visitors alike.
No one wants to have to go through these sorts of things at the end or the start of a journey. Those who have been inconvenienced have a right to expect better. There is no disagreement about that.
The other thing that the OBA attempts to spin is the cost of the TAF.
For clarity, Bermuda’s TAF has a cost of $75. What does one get for that money?
One PCR test upon arrival and three subsequent PCR tests on Days 4, 8 and 14.
If Mr Dunkley wished to be honest, it actually covers five tests, since anyone travelling out of Bermuda has to be tested and present a negative Covid test to enter the United States or Britain.
Let us take a look at costs, per test, in other countries:
● United States, depending on where one goes, the cost can vary from $100 to $150
● US Virgin Islands $150
● British Virgin Islands $70
● Canada $200
So, in Bermuda, we are essentially paying $75 for five tests, or $15 each, with results e-mailed to individuals within six hours.
Essentially, other countries are charging five to ten times the amount, with turnaround time taking up to 48 hours.
There will never be popular policies when it comes to Covid mitigation. However, there have to be policies in place or we end up with outbreaks of the Delta variant.
What has to be kept in mind is that hundreds of Bermudians are working around the clock to administer tests, produce test results, process TA applications, and guide travellers as they reach Bermuda.
It seems Mr Dunkley and the OBA, for political gain, wish to ignore global realities and have no regard for the hundreds of hard-working Bermudians keeping us Covid-free.
To all those working on the Covid front lines, Bermuda thanks you.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org