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Elderly man refused flight from NYC after Covid-19 rules mix-up

Rules row: JetBlue planes on the tarmac (File photgraph)

Bermuda’s Covid-19 travel restrictions eased on Monday — but new border rules were of no use for an elderly Bermudian traveller denied a flight home.

The 80-year-old was left stunned and out of pocket after officials from budget airline JetBlue at New York’s JFK airport refused to let him board his plane.

The traveller said: “When I got to health clearance, they were adamant that I could not get on the flight — and they were rude as well.

“I showed them my vaccination certificate and explained that I was Bermudian.

“They were not interested. There was no empathy.

“I was there for two hours, and then I had to cancel my checked bag and book a new flight for the next day at an additional cost of $75.”

The man added the trip had been “an expensive experience” after he had to pay to change his ticket and book a hotel for the night.

He vowed: “I will not be travelling again until this Covid business is over. I flew up on Sunday and the JetBlue flight was four-and-a-half hours late.”

The man, who asked not to be named, had proof of vaccination but had not obtained a clear coronavirus test result inside the previous 24 hours.

Vaccinated residents without a valid pre-travel test can travel under Bermuda’s latest set of rules, but are required to take a supervised antigen test on arrival.

The Government has highlighted on a regular basis that Bermudians have a constitutional right to return home — although the pandemic has meant some people have been blocked from boarding flights to the island.

The senior said: “What concerns me is I can imagine some elderly people not being able to figure the process out and not being able to travel.

“I was told I could get a Covid test at the airport. I travelled to a different terminal and had to get a PCR test from a van out in the car park.

“It took me 45 minutes to get into the site in order to get Covid tested, because the way they had it set up, my Bermuda address and postcode didn’t work.”

He said he was told his test results would be sent to his phone in 15 minutes.

But nothing had arrived 45 minutes later.

Bermuda’s precautions for air and sea travel were streamlined on Monday,

Visitors aged 2 and older are required to provide a clear coronavirus test result and visitors aged 12 and over must be vaccinated.

Vaccinated residents and work permit holders have to take a supervised antigen test on arrival if they have not taken a pre-travel test, but those with a pre-travel test do not have to take a test after arrival on the island.

A completed travel authorisation form is also still required, but the fee has been cut from $75 to $40.

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Published March 12, 2022 at 7:33 am (Updated March 12, 2022 at 7:33 am)

Elderly man refused flight from NYC after Covid-19 rules mix-up

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