We’re not so bad on TAFs after all
“Mr Dunkley has also called for the travel authorisation system to be scrapped...”— The Royal Gazette (January 17, 2022)
Michael Dunkley never seems to let a populist sentiment pass him by. Yet somehow he continuously fails to either research the facts or, even worse, he knows the facts but discards them to move with whichever way the weekly wind is blowing.
So, in the interest of investigative reporting, let us examine a few truths around travel.
Every country is attempting to prevent a pandemic within their shores. As such, they have Covid-19 travel requirements for entry into their borders. Even Britain, which has dropped pre-tests, still requires all incoming travellers to fill out a form and purchase Day 2 test kits in advance.
Essentially, travellers cannot board a flight to Britain unless they have proof from the British Government that they have purchased a test.
To enter Bermuda, all travellers — visitors and locals alike — must get a negative PCR or antigen test, then fill out our online Travel Authorisation Form.
The TAF gives a traveller three tests, all for a total cost of $75.
In stark contrast, one test in other countries costs between $50 and $150. Here are some prime examples:
• In Jamaica, one has to pay between $60 and $150 for a single exit test to get back to America
• In St Maarten, you pay $100 for one exit test
• In America, you pay between $50 and $150 per exit test
• You pay between $50 and $100 for one single test in the Dominican Republic
• In the Cayman Islands, the cost is $120 per test for travel
In Britain, you pay for a test before arrival and another test in order to leave. The total cost exceeds $75.
I could be wrong. However, $75 for three tests is far cheaper than $60 to $200 for one test.
There will be those who argue that we don't need to test as much as we do. So, even if we offered only two tests for $75, we would still be cheaper than every destination.
So exactly how does anyone, especially those who actually should know better, claim that we are doing something different than other places?
What is important to note is that only those travelling are paying for the TAF.
Those who have travelled recently can attest that trying to get a Covid test during the Omicron variant surge was a challenge, whether it be booking the test or standing in lines for hours.
Here are some recent news reports:
“Lines wrapping around the block are once again a regular backdrop of New York City. The rush on testing comes as the share of people testing positive in the city has doubled in three days this week.” — nbcnewyork.com (December 17, 2021)
“Some would-be customers have had to line up for hours for supervised tests, while others scramble to get their hands on scarce at-home tests amid hoarding.” — Financial Times (January 12, 2022)
Yes, we have had some hiccups here and there. However, in comparison, our testing facilities are extremely user-friendly.
In closing, Covid testing is a global norm. As a result, we have to do what we have to do to strike a balance between preserving our economy, government finances and, most importantly, the health of our community.
• 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