The new travel authorization forms that travellers are required to fill prior to arriving in Bermuda has already been causing some problems for tourists and residents alike; including PLP MP for constituency #2 Kim Swan, who was was unable to easily return to the country for which he serves.
“ Me being denied my right to return home is a human rights violation,” Mr. Swan said in a short video while trying to board a United Airlines flight in the U.S. yesterday. “ A form produced by my government is preventing me from returning home.”
Another Bermudian whose ability to easily return home was hindered is Dr. Maria Seaman, lead pastor of Shekinah Worship Center, located in the Shelly Bay area.
Rev. Dr. Seaman also released a video of herself stuck at a U.S. airport yesterday morning, because the Bermuda Government forgot her date of birth on her travel authorization form. Coincidentally, her birthday was yesterday.
“ This is what happens when you implement a system and you have not figured out all of the kinks and have not given it a trial period to ensure that all circumstances are covered,” she said. “ This situation is ridiculous, stressful and causes me to doubt that people will do what they are paid to do.”
Rev. Dr. Seaman urged anyone who may have been watching the video who knows anyone in government to email her sister, who was at the airport with her, so that they could get the correct forms, as the island’s COVID hotline “is not hot at all.”
“ I would think that the hotline would be available during the time that travellers actually travel, but I guess I was mistaken,” she said.
Dr. Seaman finally got the okay to board the aircraft and to return to the island. TNN has received word that Premier the Honorable David Burt assisted in getting her issue resolved and that she safely returned back on the island today.
A family of three who were planning to fly to Bermuda arrived at the JetBlue gate at JFK Airport in New York on Saturday night to board the aircraft, when they were told by agents that none of the forms that they filled out were viable any longer.
A well-placed source whom TNN has decided to keep anonymous said that, despite the new regulations coming into effect on Sunday, June 20, JetBlue and other airlines thought that they came into effect one day before, on June 19. Thus, the travellers had to fill out all-new forms.
“ [One of the travellers who happens to reside in Bermuda] received both of their vaccine doses back in Bermuda, but their sister received the Sinovac vaccine in the Dominican Republic and was told that Bermuda does not recognize that vaccine, ” the source said. “Because of this, they were told that they could not fly to Bermuda.”
The source called the government’s COVID-19 hotline to try and sort things out, and was on hold for almost an hour before being informed that there was a technical problem on the line and being cut off. A little later, they tried the line again and were again cut off. They also called some politicians, including Opposition Leader Cole Simons, on Saturday night and have not yet received a response from anybody.
“ The travellers were unable to even get a hotel room for the night and had to stay on the streets until the airport opened up again early the next morning,” the source said. “ JetBlue then informed one of the travellers, who happens to be a teenager, that they must stay in quarantine because they are unvaccinated and received further instructions via email that the sister must also quarantine.”
Despite the hassle and uncertainty, all three travellers arrived safely on the island on Sunday June 20, but as stated before, two of them must quarantine at their residences until their fourth day test results. Bermuda’s travel authorization process was so stressful for them, however, that they were almost prepared to return to the Domincan Republic.
Another visitor explained in a Facebook group that their entire party had been vaccinated against the virus, received a negative preflight result and received a negative arrival test result. They received a call from the government informing them that someone in close proximity to them on the flight to the island tested positive for the virus. As a result, their entire party was mandated to quarantine for 14 days. According to the visitor, no one has contacted the resort that they are staying at yet to inform them or has given them wristbands or the like.
“This was [my partner and I’s] 35th anniversary trip and they have ruined it,” the post read. “ They said that they would be back in touch once they figured out how to get us off the island. I called them back and they all went home for the day.”
TNN understands that the government has received many applications regarding the challenges that they are having with this new system, and are dealing with each case individually and are looking to rectify these issues that individuals are having.
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