Vaxxed sunseekers, rejoice!
After months of imposing stricter entry requirements due to the 2021 Omicron spike, Barbados is finally lifting the testing requirement for fully vaccinated tourists. While they are yet to relax rules completely like Mexico and Jamaica, which have both scrapped all entry requirements, Barbadian authorities are making it easier to visit the paradise island again.
In recent months, more and more nations have dropped their overly strict entry rules, with some going as far as declaring Covid an endemic disease, like St Marteen. It seems Barbados will not be following their example just yet, but the much-anticipated loosening of the testing rule is a strong indicator the government is changing its hard stance on Covid.
Fully Vaccinated Tourists Will No Longer Need Testing From May 25
Starting May 25, fully immunized individuals flying to Barbados will no longer be required to present a negative Covid test at the border. Sharing the news during a press conference last weekend, the country’s Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the removal of the testing requirement will have ‘positive implications’ for the island’s tourism sector.
As a large portion of visitors to Barbados are fully vaccinated, Mrs. Mottley agreed this will result in ‘speedier processing times’ at Grantley Adams International Airport, the country’s main entry point. In other words, the travel industry as a whole will benefit, as airports have been struggling with severe staffing constraints lately.
In the UK, this has led to longer border delays, while other airports already foresee a spate of flight cancellations over the summer. By removing testing for the vaccinated, Barbados will surely alleviate pressure on both airport staff and border agents, who will have fewer travel documents to check after each arriving passenger.
Within Barbados, the population also has high immunity levels against Covid, with Mrs. Mottley announcing the partial drop of the testing rule after 70% of Barbadians were vaccinated. The epidemiological situation is also favorable, with 750 new infections per 100,000 people being reported in the last week.
For the Prime Minister, powering Barbados’ battered tourism is markedly important, as it is one of the driving forces behind the Caribbean nation’s developing economy. Noting the island’s ninety percent decline in visitor numbers in the last two years, she claimed they are already ‘significantly’ on their way back up, and hopes the revised entry rules will boost tourism.
Tourism Authorities Hope This Will Encourage More Americans To Visit
Tourism officials have naturally backed the Government’s decision to scrap testing for the vaccinated, as Barbados prepares to welcome more visitors over summer. They also expect the news to be well received in Barbados’ ‘key source markets’ and encourage more tourists to visit, such as U.S. citizens, Canadians, and Brits.
According to Lisa Cummins, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, the new entry rules signal to travelers that it’s ‘safe’ for them to visit Barbados. After all, showing up to the airport for a Covid test ahead of flying only to be denied boarding and have a whole vacation ruined is an unsettling prospect.
Outdoor Masks Are Also Gone As Of This Week
Besides dropping testing for the vaccinated, Barbados is removing mandatory outdoor mask wearing, one of the measures that alienated many restriction-wary travelers. Barbados is warm all-year round, and as many will know, wearing face coverings in extremely hot temperatures is not a pleasant experience.
Conversely, masks will continue being mandatory indoors, with the Prime Minister maintaining they remain an official requirement in enclosed venues and public transport, such as city buses, taxis, and all other inter-municipal transportation.
What About The Unvaccinated?
At this time, unvaccinated tourists will still be required to test ahead of traveling to Barbados, and ‘further protocols’ will be explained later this week. The Prime Minister did not detail what exactly these protocols mean, though as of now, the unvaccinated are required to present either a Rapid Antigen Test or PCR before flying.
Rapid tests can be undertaken up to 1 day before arrival, while PCR tests can be done 3 days preceding the border crossing, at least under present rules. The Prime Minister has not yet indicated when testing will be scrapped for all other categories of travelers, including unvaccinated Americans.
It is possible that all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, will still be required complete the Online Immigration and Customs Form, as the Prime Minister did not mention the removal of the form. Tourists are also advised to download the BIMSafe Mobile App, which includes links to the form and helps make traveling easier.
When visiting Barbados, vacationers are advised to follow official guidance on this page.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com