You may be wondering if it’s safe to fly, take your children on a trip, or hold off until the whole family gets vaccinated for COVID-19? I had those same questions. Leading up to his milestone birthday in August, I asked Juan—my lifelong travel partner—where would it be safe to vacation? We chose Bermuda because it was not far away and somewhat isolated. To get started, I had to understand the Bermuda Government’s requirements for visitor entry. Juan and I were required to have a pre-departure Negative COVID-19 test result within 7 days of departure. Test results for adults and children 10 and older were required to be from a certified laboratory with the date of testing, phone number, email and address. If traveling to a country with this requirement, be sure to notify your health care provider as soon as possible. To receive a visitor authorization, testing results were required to be uploaded into the Bermuda Ministry of Health website 48 hours before departure. The visitor authorization had to be dated, signed and agreed that we have health insurance coverage. Thermometers were required to keep a 14-day log of temperature checks performed twice daily. Make sure that your name on all documents is the same as shown on your passport.
We arrived at the airport in Bermuda on August 20, 2020 and were greeted by officials dressed in surgical gowns, gloves, face shields and masks. They performed a nasal swab test on us again and ordered us to head straight to the resort. We stayed in our room until notified by e-mail that we both had negative confirmation test results for COVID-19. Although children aged 9 and under are not subject to COVID-19 testing, they are required to quarantine with their parents/guardian until restrictions are lifted. Although our results came within six hours, the wait can take up to 24 hours. Room service was not allowed and tipping in cash was prohibited so we had to include the tip before submitting online orders. We could not tip the taxi driver in cash when headed from the airport to hotel. Cash exchanges were only allowed after we were released from quarantine. In Bermuda the food delivery App for any cuisine on the island is Sargasso Sea. If staying longer than three days in Bermuda, re-testing for COVID-19 is done on day 4, 8, and 14.
According to the World Health Organization, from March 18 to August 20, 2020, there were 166 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bermuda with 9 deaths reported. Bermuda has a population of just over 62,000 people which justifies extreme measures to protect the health of residents and their livelihoods. Contact-tracing was extensive and there were redundant procedures to prevent transmission of the virus. At every restaurant, bar, and coffee shop, you must provide your name, address, phone number and e-mail. Tables were numbered so that there is a record of where you were seated. Hand sanitizer is placed at the entrance of every establishment and each table where food and drink are consumed. Toothpicks are mounted next to elevators for pressing buttons to reduce possibility of transmission. It may make life easier if you carry your own toothpicks or golf tee with a blunt end in your pocket. I found it helpful to attach my face covering and hand sanitizer to a lanyard for easy reach. Keep a small washable case for your face coverings to help shield it from dust, sand, and other debris. It’s probably a good idea to have some snacks and small bottles of water packed before going into self-quarantine in the host country.
The coronavirus pandemic is constantly evolving. A country may change their entry requirements at any time prior to the date of your travel. Before booking your trip, become familiar with requirements for COVID-19 testing, self-quarantine, instructions for food delivery and contact-tracing. Remember to communicate early and often with your health care provider to build in enough time for getting pre-departure test results. I hope that taking these steps will make a big difference during your journey.
-Jerry Ellis, Jr.
Ellis-Lopez Travel Partners, LLC