Abolition of TAF impossible for now, says government
Abolishing Bermuda’s controversial travel authorisation form and to allow travellers to enter the Island with proof of either immunisation or a negative Covid-19 test will not work, government said yesterday.
The proposal was made this week by Michael Dunkley, the shadow health minister, who said Bermuda should consider eliminating the TAF, and the expense involved with it.
He said the US policy requires passengers have to show a valid negative PCR test and, if vaccinated, a vaccination certificate before boarding a plane.
But a government spokeswoman said the idea had already been explored and “cannot be implemented as the airlines will not take responsibility for verifying that the document presented is authentic and meets the standard”.
She said: “Travel Authorisations have been in place for one year, and are an essential part of our border control framework.
“We look forward to the day they are no longer needed, but they remain an important tool in reducing the risk of the importation of the coronavirus.”
Negative test results for Covid-19 used by Bermuda residents for overseas travel will now specify the exact time of the test and the sample used.
Carika Weldon, the head of Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, said the extra details would be added to the test results after Bermuda tourists to the Azores complained last weekend that travel officials had not accepted their negative pre-tests.
Although the results specified that the results came from the PCR test for the coronavirus, they did not include the type of sample and its time.
Dr Weldon, responding to a complaint from a local traveller to the Azores, said the test result form was “mainly designed for US/UK/Canada travel”.
In a Facebook post on Monday, she added: “There are some other destinations that require more information which is already on the report generated by the system. To obtain, one needs to reply back to the result e-mail and ask for it.”
Dr Weldon said there had been an MDL meeting subsequently in which the extra details were approved.
Also this week, a spokeswoman for the health ministry clarified some of the problems travellers to Bermuda had experienced with their documents required to clear LF Wade International Airport.
Travel Authorisation has been in place since July last year, she said.
“The only difference is that persons must now upload their proof of vaccination and supply reservations if they are required to quarantine upon arrival.
“If a travel authorisation is rejected due to incorrect or incomplete documents, the hotline staff will call those that are rejected to assist them in receiving an approved TA.”
She added: “The most common reason a TA is being rejected for residents is that they do not upload their vaccine certificates, as instructed on the application.
“In many cases, forms have incorrect e-mail addresses or expired documents uploaded.
“As well, TAs are being rejected because travellers’ PCR test results do not meet the approval criteria. For example, the test is an antigen test, or the result document does not contain the letters PCR on it.”
The spokeswoman said some travellers had not checked their e-mail inbox, spam folder or junk mail for the approved travel authorisation.