Travelling from UK to Barbados in times of Covid
We were amongst the lucky few travelling to Barbados in times of Covid. We travelled from Heathrow to Barbados on 1 August 2020. Ours was the first Virgin Atlantic flight out since the planes were cancelled because of Covid 19.
The government of Barbados officially reopened its borders to international travel on July 12th 2020. There are a number of precautions and safeguards being implemented to protect, both locals and visitors while on island. To read the constantly changing guidelines click here
To be honest we were nervous about what our experience would be like but on the whole it turned out to be positive.
To be considered for process fast-tracking upon arrival travellers from medium risk countries like the UK are advised to take a COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited facility 72 hours prior to travel.The airlines indicate the test should be done within 72 hours of scheduled departure time.
You can arrive in Barbados without a test and receive a free test in Barbados but it is risky because if you test positive then you and anyone who has come into close contact with you will need to be moved to isolated accommodation until you have recovered. Anyone you have come into close contact with will also be moved to approved facilities to be quarantined. It can also take some time for the test to be administered in Barbados and you also need to be quarantined-possibly in your villa if it is stand alone until the test results are ready.
A visitor who does not present a valid negative result and declines testing upon arrival will be denied entry into Barbados.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO BEFORE BOARDING PLANE TO BARBADOS
You must complete an online form (similar to the ones visitors used to complete manually on the plane. However now you have to upload a copy of the biometrics page of your passport and also your negative COVID test results). This is the link to the form you complete online https://travelform.gov.bb/home .
This all has to be done they say 24 hours before scheduled departure time. We did ours about 18 hours before and it was absolutely fine. Some travellers only received their COVID test results 16 or so hours before travel and they uploaded them and were fine.
Unfortunately you can’t complete the form and go back to it to upload COVID results because it doesn’t save the information. You have to wait for Covid test results to submit it.
Once submitted you receive an email confirmation with a reference number and an attachment with a bar code on it. If you are travelling as a couple or in a family then one member of the party can complete one form with information relating to each of you.
What happens on arrival at Barbados airport?
When we disembarked we joined the queue to have the COVID 19 PCR test results checked. Hopefully, as time goes on results will have been checked before arrival. It is still early days.
We had booked the Meet and Greet service at the airport and a lady with a sign with our name on it took us straight to the front of the queue to show our COVID test results. We recommend that visitors print off their test results. This certainly speeds up the process at the Barbados end.
The Barbados authorities are now accepting the NHS test results but you also have to print off or show on your phone the confirmation from NHS of your appointment time/ test time. The Barbados tourist board were not sure when we called before we left the UK if NHS tests would be accepted. They were not accepted when the first BA flights landed but they are accepted now.
We had private tests done. The Barbados Tourist Board in London are able to provide a list of private clinics in the UK who will do the Covid 19 PCR tests. Costs range from approx £150 to £250 per test.
After showing Covid-19 PCR test results we had our temperature taken and then we were taken through to the passport check and had to show our passports and the bar code on our phone which confirmed we had submitted the entry form online. That is on the attachment they send with the confirmation. Once again it is a good idea to print that off to to save time finding it on the attachment on your phone.
After that we had to manually fill out a form with our name and address in the UK and in Barbados. A nurse then gave us a digital thermometer to take home with us so we could check our temperature twice a day for a week. We had to record the readings and log them on a form they gave us. We received a phone call and were asked to submit our readings. Others we know had officials turn up at their villas to check the temperature logs were being kept.
All bags are now taken off the conveyor belt at Barbados airport by airport staff so we just collected ours and left. It was a completely painless procedure and we did not wait any longer than usual.
ON THE PLANE
On the Virgin Atlantic flight hot food was served in boxes with wine only with lunch. It was all perfectly fine (we were in economy on the way out). Parties travelling together were allowed to sit next to each other but otherwise on our flight there was an empty seat left between travellers who were not together. That may not always be the case going forward when flights become busier.
There were sanitising bags on each seat containing antiseptic wipes and 2 disposable masks. Water was served regularly from a jug but there was no drinks trolley service.
You have to wear a mask through the airport and all the way on the flight except when you’re eating.
EXPERIENCE AT HEATHROW AIRPORT
We arrived at Heathrow 3 hours before our flight and it took an hour and a half standing up to check in. From time to time staff came to check if any passengers were in upper class and took them ahead. Gatwick is quieter than Heathrow. If travelling from Heathrow we would recommend that elderly and infirm clients ask for assistance in advance.
It is slow through passport control and security but it moves. As long as you have given yourself enough time you should be fine.
In Heathrow airport a lot of the shops nd restaurants were closed. Duty free however, Boots and WHSmith were open. There were a few restaurants and cafes open but with limited seating.
As long as guests arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure they should be fine. Guests travelling on Virgin Atlantic should also be aware that the Virgin gate at Heathrow is a 15 minute walk from security.
Guests who are not good with technology should be warned to enlist help to assist with uploading copy biometric page of passport and Covid results.
You can complete the Barbados entry form on your phone and just take a picture of your passport and COVID test results but you have to have the COVID results printed to do that. We just uploaded a screenshot of our COVID results.
If families and couples are travelling together one person can submit all the information for all of them. At the end of the first guest’s form it says ‘add passengers you are travelling with’ and all the other details can then be added.
All in all it was not a difficult or stressful experience and it would certainly not deter us from returning to Barbados.
Most of the hotels in Barbados don't open until 3 October 2020. However, most of the luxury villas are available. Staff have been made aware of the new protocols regarding hygeine and health and safety for all.
If you are interested in staying in a villa in Barbados visit barbadosdreamvillas.com