Visitors to Bermuda must pay US$75 for COVID-19 testsTuesday, June 30, 2020
HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — Bermuda will introduce a strict COVID-19 testing regime when it opens its borders on Wednesday to international flights for the first time in more than three months — and tourists will have to help foot the bill.
The fourth — and final — phase of the easing of restrictions introduced in March to cope with the global coronavirus pandemic will kick in at 6:00 am on July 1 but a curfew will remain, although the hours will change from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am to midnight to 5:00 am.
The curfew will be reviewed on a weekly basis afterwards.
Premier David Burt, who is keen to belatedly kick-start the island's summer tourism season, has praised local efforts to fight the coronavirus and said there had been “a lot of work getting us to this point”, with “excellent progress” in the battle against the pandemic which has claimed nine lives among 146 confirmed cases on the island so far.
“We have truly punched above our weight,” he told the latest media briefing, praising the public's “creativity, resilience and discipline” during months of restrictions.
Burt said he understood the reservations of those who felt Bermuda's borders should remain closed, but noted that an extensive testing programme would be used to keep visitors and residents safe.
“Bermuda's regime will likely be the strictest in the world,” he said.
Health Minister Kim Wilson said tourists will be charged a US$75 fee to cover COVID-19 tests on arrival and intermittently throughout their stay.
Last week, Tourism Minister Zane DeSilva said the Government would absorb the cost of the testing, but Burt fired back with a tweet saying “rest assured, tourists will pay a fee for their testing”.
DeSilva has said only three of Bermuda's regular air carriers will touch down here in July and a Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) report has forecast a grim outlook for the second half of the year. The airport has been closed since March 20.
Air Canada is expected to fly once a week from Toronto from July 2; Delta Air Lines is to start daily flights from Atlanta from July 6; and British Airways is scheduled to start a twice-a-week service from London from July 17.
There was a blow to Bermuda's tourism recovery efforts when Rosedon, an award-winning boutique hotel on the outskirts of Hamilton, announced at the weekend that it will not reopen until next year, after paying laid-off staff redundancy packages and running up losses of close to half a million dollars since closing on March 18. But it said it would keep its Huckleberry Restaurant open.
The island's already struggling economy has taken a battering from the pandemic and the national debt is expected to edge close to three billion US dollars. A 16-week unemployment benefits package for more than 9,000 laid-off workers — including 2,000 expatriates — is expected to cost the Government up to US$50 million.