A matter of sound policy
Christopher Famous recently questioned the One Bermuda Alliance's motivation behind suggesting the elimination of Travel Authorisation Form in its present state.
We stand by that opinion and believe there is a better way to continue to protect our borders.
The existing TAF has become a hassle for travellers because of its expanded format in conjunction with more people arriving in Bermuda now that restrictions have been lifted and with the airport having an expanded flight schedule.
This results in a much heavier workload for the team responsible for reviewing and approving the forms.
Mr Famous admitted there were major glitches and teething problems. He then went on to list what other countries do where it pertains to arriving travellers.
But what he failed to mention is the easier entrance to Bahamas with their health visa, which requires a negative PCR test or a vaccination certificate, or the United States, which has a Passenger Disclosure and Attestation to the US saying you have received a negative pre-departure test result for Covid.
There is no charge for this form and it is reviewed by the airlines upon check-in. We suggest a form similar to this could be used by the Bermuda Government.
Mr Famous also tries to defend the cost of the TAF by stating it covers the cost of the five tests upon arrival on the island.
If Mr Famous is honest, he would consider that the Government has always stated the costs of PCR testing was free. That is, up until now!
In May 2020, David Burt, the Premier, lauded free PCR testing “to protect the health and safety of Bermuda”.
The Government has talked about free testing on a number of occasions since then. I guess this is to justify the cost of a TAF that the Government has now changed its position.
Covid had severely challenged Bermuda and the rest of the world. The OBA is most appreciative to all those who have worked tirelessly in the fight against it. They cannot be thanked enough for their dedication and commitment.
Sadly, the battle continues and, in support of all on the front line, the OBA will support sound policy and will not hesitate to speak out against policy or restrictions that we believe can be improved.
Let’s be clear: it is not about political gain. It is about the future wellbeing of Bermuda.
This is why we serve.
• Michael Dunkley is the Shadow Minister for National Security and Health, and the MP for Smith’s North (Constituency 10)