Barbados’ already battered tourism sector is about to take another knock which could potentially result in American visitors leaving the island in large numbers over the next eight to ten days.
With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no sign of slowing down and new, more infectious strains of the viral illness being discovered in South Africa, Britain, and just days ago in Brazil, the Centres for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) has issued a new order giving its citizens until January 26 to return home, be faced with new COVID-19 restrictions, or be barred from returning home.
According to a posting by the United States Embassy in Barbados on the weekend, the CDC has ordered that all airline passengers travelling to the US must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test or recovery from COVID-19.
The statement noted: “Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.”
It added: “Passengers must also attest, under penalty of law, to having received a negative qualifying test result or to recovery from COVID-19 and medical clearance to travel.”
Airlines have been instructed that they “must deny boarding to passengers who do not meet these requirements”. The order applies to all countries.
According to one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, given the backlog in obtaining test results from the Best-Dos Santos Lab because of the surge in COVID cases that confronts the country since the Christmas season, Americans may choose to return home early, rather than deal with more inconveniences.
As a stark reminder of the seriousness of the new measure, the United States government has told its citizens to come home now or be barred from re-entry if they are unsure they can meet the new COVID-19 mandate.
“United States citizens in countries where adequate COVID-19 testing is not available or may not be able to satisfy the requirements, should depart immediately or prepare to be unable to return to the United States until such time as they can meet the requirements.,” the American Government warned.
This development follows travel restrictions also imposed by the Canadian Government and the administration in the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom, which is Barbados’ most lucrative travel market, is expected to officially remove the island from the secure “travel corridor” in which citizens who came here were not required to undergo a period of quarantine when they landed in the UK.
Canada has also advised its citizens against non-emergency travel at this time due to increasing cases in a second wave of the COVID-19 in that North American country. (IMC1)