Day one of the new 14-day mandatory quarantine orders for non-vaccinated passengers arriving in Bermuda did not go without added travel restrictions on Sunday, with word that Bermudians were unable to board flights yesterday.
Returning residents without authorisation were blocked from flights to Bermuda, even though a Government spokeswoman said “no Bermudian will be denied the ability to return home”.
She also stated that commercial airlines servicing Bermuda were told that they could not refuse to transport Bermudians via the International Air Transport Association.
“Both visitors and residents must apply for a Bermuda COVID-19 travel authorisation one to three days before departure,” she said.
“Travellers arriving in Bermuda without a travel authorisation, causing one to be completed upon arrival, will result in a travel authorisation fee of $1,000.
“Under the Quarantine Act, failure to pay the $1,000 travel authorisation fee will result in a penalty.
“The fee for a travel authorisation completed in advance as required, is $75.00,” she added.
But the post stirring up heated criticism on social media over the holiday weekend was published on the Facebook page administrated by a group called Bermuda Bound by the following post by Mark-Kim Watterson, who wrote:
Meanwhile, anyone whose travel authorisation was rejected due to a lack of information is urged to call the COVID-19 helpline.
The Government spokeswoman also noted that it was essential that other steps – such as test results, vaccine certificates or hotel or exemption confirmations – should be completed before travel authorisation was applied for.
But she said: “The helpline is currently experiencing delays and every effort is being made to promptly answer calls and provide assistance.”
In the interim, she said: “The Ministry of Health will be adding more resources this week to better assist travellers.”
For those looking to secure exemptions from mandatory quarantine in a hotel at their own expense were urged to complete the online form as soon as possible.
“Failure to complete the travel authorisation correctly and entirely will delay entry into Bermuda.”
Health Minister Kim Wilson added: “These recent changes have been implemented to further protect our community from the coronavirus and its variants.
“Bermuda must have strong protection at our borders so that we can move beyond the pandemic.”
Travel authorisation applications can be found at https://www.gov.bm/applying-bermuda-travel-authorisation.
Exemption application forms can be found at https://forms.gov.bm/hotelexemption.
The COVID-19 helpline number is 444-2498 and open between 8am and 8pm daily.