Premier David Burt Apologies For Travel Authorization Unfortunate Challenges

“This holiday weekend, Bermudians celebrated on the water, on the beach and at family get-togethers across the Island. The end of the restrictions that have dominated our lives for far too long brought some welcome relief. But our ability to do these things is directly connected to a strong border policy. Protecting Bermuda at the borders from coronavirus variants must be our top priority in this phase of the global pandemic..” said Premier the Hon. David Burt, JP,MP.

After the weekend’s introduction of the revised border policies for arriving travellers, the Premier said: “I’ve seen the photos and the videos. What some Bermudians are experiencing at airports is heartbreaking, and we have made our displeasure known to the airlines themselves.  Some travellers have experienced challenges submitting correct information to the new Travel Authorisation, and we will continue to do all that we can to help those arriving passengers safely and seamlessly get to Bermuda.

As I said in the House of Assembly on Friday, the Government is NOT denying any Bermudian the right to return home. Whilst the requirement for a Travel Authorisation is not new, we have had to work with our airline partners to ensure that they have the correct information. I can confirm that the following message was sent to IATA – the international airline regulatory body – following the first indication of the issues with returning residents:

“Recently, some Bermudians have experienced challenges when trying to board flights to Bermuda because they did not have the necessary Travel Authorisation documents. Please update your system advising that, “under the provisions of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968, no Bermudian should be denied entry into Bermuda, as Bermuda cannot deny a resident his or her ability to return home.”

We will continue to reiterate this message and make the point that no Bermudian should be refused boarding a flight home for this reason.

The Premier continued: “There is enough misinformation in circulation, so it is irresponsible of the Opposition to add to it. The Quarantine Order made by the Minister of Health followed the law to the very letter. The procedure under the Quarantine Act requires the Minister to make the Order FIRST (sign it and publish it) and then to table it in the Legislature. In fact this is one of many changes to border controls made since this pandemic began, and they have all been made in the exact same way. The Quarantine Act 2017 is clear, and the Order is properly made and operative.”

“The adoption of new and different restrictions has been a challenge throughout this pandemic, but these changes were announced on Tuesday as part of the regular Covid press conference, and so any suggestion that notice of the changes was any later is simply false.”

The Premier concluded: “This weekend, I felt the full brunt of the frustration of those people who have tried to follow the rules and fully appreciate the stress and anxiety these situations can cause. On behalf of the Government, I apologise for the unfortunate circumstances that have arisen. An entire team has worked this holiday weekend, making themselves available to assist as many people as possible, and that work is continuing. We must own the issues, and I will tomorrow invite the Cabinet to consider waiving any penalty for incomplete Travel Authorisations for residents while we work to ensure all travellers are familiar with the revised process.

“I believe, in fact, I know, that Bermudians are tired of restrictions which have had a clear economic impact on hard-working women, men and families. I believe Bermudians want this economy open and active so that they can work full time, pay their bills and enjoy this summer. It is only with strong border protection that we can maintain this. Our policies strike the necessary balance between our social and economic well-being and, like so many other countries, are designed to move beyond the pandemic.”
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