COVID-19 protocols being expanded to more visitors


With countries in Europe and the Americas experiencing second and third waves of COVID-19, the Barbados Government will soon require all visitors to the island to arrive with negative PCR test results.

That disclosure came from Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Sunday night, ahead of an announcement Monday that 14 more countries will be added to the high-risk group, effective Tuesday.

An update to the COVID-19 travel protocols moved Antigua and Barbuda, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Martinique, Norway, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates to the list of those deemed high risk for COVID-19, bringing the total in that category to 50.

The other 36 include Barbados’ major tourism markets – the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada – as well as neighbouring Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Five countries are now deemed medium risk for entry: Australia, Bermuda, New Zealand, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Only Egypt and Greenland are in the low risk group; while Anguilla, China, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, and St Kitts and Nevis are categorised as very low risk.

Under the current protocols, all persons travelling to Barbados from high and medium risk countries must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test done at an accredited or certified facility within three days prior to arrival. Persons arriving from Canada are allowed to be tested on arrival in Barbados, if they are unable to receive their test results in time for departure from their country.

However, speaking at a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) St George North by-election campaign meeting in Charles Rowe Bridge on Sunday night, Prime Minister Mottley explained that in the coming days, all visitors to the island will have to arrive with negative PCR tests.

“The Government of Barbados has, as its first responsibility, to protect the lives and the livelihoods of its people,” she said. “Because of that, and because of the fact that we have seen community spread in some of our neighbouring territories, we are going to require from now on . . . that all persons coming into Barbados, regardless of if it’s from the high risk countries of the US, UK and Canada or whether its medium or low risk, as long as this second wave is about and knocking down people in the world with whom we have airline contact, we will require all persons to have a PCR test before entering Barbados, or to get one at the airport upon entry.”

Visitors will also be mandated to take a second test here, four to five days after arriving in Barbados, to maintain the highest level of health monitoring. That requirement is currently only in place for medium and high risk passengers.

Prime Minister Mottley said the Ministry of Health would announce when the expanded provision would take effect.

Currently, passengers from high risk countries are required to quarantine at a designated hotel or approved villa at their own expense or free of charge at a government facility, up to the time of a second test, which will be four to five days after the first test. Once they have a negative second test, they are discharged but are continued to be monitored for seven days from the time of arrival.

Passengers from medium risk countries are monitored for seven days after arrival and must also undergo a second test within four to five days.

Persons from low risk countries are strongly advised to have a negative test taken within five days of arrival, and those who arrive without it will be tested on arrival.

Those coming to Barbados from very low risk countries do not currently require a test for entry.

Meantime, the Prime Minister also disclosed at the political meeting that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states have agreed on new plans to bolster financial aid available to a wide range of sectors across the region.

She said this would help regional countries handle further economic fallout expected from the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming months.

“We have started to talk to the banks in the region, and we recognise that after six and seven months there are still households and there are still businesses that are in trouble with loans that they have from the banks. We have to find ways of keeping people’s heads above water, because this thing is not finishing in six or nine months,” Mottley said.

“The [financial institutions]have agreed with us – and I want to thank Republic Bank for working with a group of senior economists and bankers in the region – [and are]beginning to help us see how can we keep the heads of households and businesses above water, but at the same time, how can we open up loans for those areas of activity where things are going to happen.” (SB)


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