What you need to know about visiting Bermuda right now

Aug 10, 2021

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For many travellers, Bermuda may seem like the perfect place for a quick, easy getaway at a time when travel has never been more complicated.

Like many destinations, Bermuda has a number of regulations in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the island. But as some parts of the world are beginning to ease restrictions, Bermuda’s borders have shut tighter.

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When I travelled to Bermuda in June to check out the new St. Regis Bermuda Resort, for example, the requisite PCR test needed to enter the country had to be taken within five days of travel. By the time I flew home, the timeframe had shrunk. Now, according to the local government, all travellers 2 and older must have a test result taken within four days of arrival.

In addition to the PCR test taken prior to departure, visitors also need to apply for Travel Authorisation one to three days before arrival with the negative test result. The authorisation costs about £54 ($75) and covers the cost of an on-arrival test.

Even after landing at Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA), travellers aren’t in the clear.

I waited for roughly an hour at the airport while my documents were checked (printed and signed copies of the travel authorisation form; my proof of vaccination; my negative PCR test result). Though residents were processed a bit more quickly, multiple flights landed at the same time, and there were a lot of people at the airport waiting eagerly to begin their Bermuda vacations.

Before leaving the airport, all new arrivals were given red wristbands and another COVID-19 test. At the time, being vaccinated barely altered the experience. Since I was fully vaccinated, I was allowed to cut off my wristband and enjoy a quarantine-free trip to Bermuda once my test results arrived later that evening. Until then, I had to stay at the hotel. Non-vaccinated travellers were required to sport the wristband for the first two weeks of their trip.

Often, being able to provide proof of vaccination is like waving a gold ticket: You can typically avoid most testing and quarantine requirements. It wasn’t until after I returned from Bermuda that the requirements for unvaccinated travellers became even more onerous.

Now, a quick trip to Bermuda is more or less implausible for travellers who aren’t inoculated, since a 14-day quarantine at a government-approved hotel is now required.

During my two-night stay at the St. Regis, I technically spent one night quarantined at the hotel. I took a total of three tests (one PCR test for the travel authorisation form; the on-arrival test; and a third to make sure I didn’t have any issues returning home) and I would have been required to submit to even more testing throughout my trip if I stayed any longer. The price of testing could cost a family of four about £216 ($300) just to get in.

There may be a sweet spot for travellers staying longer, but regardless of vaccination status, that means additional testing, too.

And there’s the very real threat of testing positive during your stay, which could result in a lengthy (read: very expensive) quarantine in Bermuda. If that doesn’t make your beach vacation a bit more stressful than usual, I don’t know what would.

Bermuda is hardly the only place adding or enhancing COVID-19 restrictions of course — and some destinations in the region have similarly strict protocols. But for fully vaccinated travellers seeking a quick beach escape, destinations such as Aruba, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, which currently only require a single negative test result taken prior to arrival (along with pre-travel forms) may make more sense at this time.

If a Bermuda getaway is at the top of your to-do list right now, it’s not impossible. But for unvaccinated travellers, it may not make much sense unless you’ve been dreaming of an extended stay at one of the half-dozen government-approved hotels (including Coco Reef Resort, Willowbank Resort and, most notably, the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club).

And everyone, including vaccinated travellers, needs to take the very real expense and stress (there really isn’t anything relaxing about nasal swabs) into consideration — not to mention the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The island is open to visitors, but for many people, it may be best to wait to visit. And for unvaccinated travellers, the message is more than clear. As the coronavirus continues to spread, even destinations with ample safeguards are seeing an uptick in new COVID-19 cases.

According to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda’s daily newspaper, the number of active COVID-19 cases jumped to 71 this past weekend. It’s the highest number of active cases since late May. The majority are the more contagious delta variant.

Entry requirements for vaccinated travellers

Fully vaccinated travellers (people who received the full course of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to travel) who are 2 years of age or older must still apply for a Travel Authorisation form with the result of a negative COVID-19 PCR test.

The test, at this time, must be taken within four days of arrival.

Upon arrival, immunized travellers will submit to another COVID-19 test, and quarantine until the results of that test arrive. Travellers must also take tests on the fourth and 10th day of their trip.

Travellers should be prepared to bring their initial COVID-19 test result, the travel authorisation form and proof of vaccination.

Related: The difference between a vaccine passport and proof of vaccination

Entry requirements for unvaccinated travellers

Now, unimmunized travellers must quarantine upon arrival at an approved quarantine hotel at their own expense for two weeks.

Travellers can apply for an exemption, but will still be required to quarantine at a residence for 14 days and receive a final COVID-19 test at the end of the quarantine. They may also be required to wear a quarantine bracelet and be visited by the Royal Bermuda Regiment.

Like vaccinated travellers, unvaccinated visitors to Bermuda who are 2 years of age or older must apply for travel authorisation ($75) one to three days prior to arrival with a negative COVID-19 test result taken within four days of arrival. They’ll also need to take a test on arrival.

But unvaccinated visitors must also pay for their two-week stay at a quarantined hotel in full and have proof of payment, and quarantine there until day 13, when they’ll take a final COVID-19 test.

Children travelling to Bermuda

Children 2 and older must have a negative COVID-19 test taken within four days of arrival. Those under the age of 2 are not required to test.

Parents must complete a Travel Authorisation form, and provide their reference number when completing the authorisation form for their child.

Non-vaccinated children with vaccinated parents must quarantine with their parents at their accommodation until the results of the on-arrival COVID-19 test come back negative. They must also test on the fourth and 10th days with their parents.

Children with unimmunized parents will stay at the quarantine hotel until the 13th day, when they can be released with their parents after receiving a negative COVID-19 test result.

Featured photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy

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