Bermuda has sufficient testing capacity to meet the Centres for Disease Control & Protection’s new COVID-19 testing requirements for visitors leaving the country to go to the United States. The island’s Ministry of Health confirmed today its testing system provides easy access to PCR COVID-19 tests, including results within the 72-hour turnaround time American officials require as of January 26, 2021.
Since July of last year when Bermuda reopened its tourism industry, the island’s public health system has managed one of the most rigorous pandemic-era testing regimes in the world. All incoming travellers are tested when they arrive by air or sea, and automatically booked to be tested again on day 4, 8 and 14. Results are typically returned within 24 hours. Bermuda is in the top 10 globally for testing per capita.
Most Bermuda visitors returning to the United States, United Kingdom or Canada will have their outbound testing requirements met within the existing testing regime, which provides automated appointments for travellers and results via email.
As of today, any visitor in need of an outbound test not covered by the existing testing programme, is automatically booked for a return home test. Bermuda pivoted its existing automated system to consider the traveller’s departure date supplied on the way in, matched with the 72-hour requirement for test results on the way out.
Outbound test results will contain the following information: name, birth date, gender, date of test, type of test and test credentials, lab name and address. This will satisfy the entry requirements in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada – the three countries for which Bermuda has direct air service.
“The world’s public health measures at the border have changed constantly during the coronavirus pandemic, but Bermuda’s gold standard testing system has remained consistent because it works,” said Bermuda’s Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson. “Prudent scientific analysis and rigorous testing have allowed a gradual recovery to our tourism industry, while keeping our country one of the safest places to shelter during this health crisis.”
Meantime, at the Bermuda Government Molecular Diagnostic Lab (MDL), where test samples are processed, officials expect an increase in volume between 20 and 25 percent as a result of the new protocols affecting outbound travellers. MDL technicians say they can handle the additional demand within the required 72-hour turnaround time because their current performance standard is results in less than 24 hours. The lab operates seven days a week, which covers all traveller contingencies, including weekends and public holidays.
“This is excellent news for Bermuda tourism, especially for American travellers looking to escape to someplace close and return home safely,” said Glenn Jones, Interim CEO at the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “The Government of Bermuda’s stellar pandemic management and rapid response to a constantly shifting landscape are putting Bermuda at the top of travellers’ consideration lists. And post-travel to Bermuda, visitors tell us they felt safe from the pandemic while here.”
An overwhelming 98 percent felt either “safe” or “very safe” in terms of COVID-19 during their visit to Bermuda, according to visitor exit surveys since July 2020. Similarly, 95 percent of exit-survey respondents felt the island’s protocols, including pre-travel, airport, and follow-up coronavirus tests, were “reasonable”.
Bermuda is recognised as one of the most successful countries globally in managing the pandemic, via effective per-capita testing, diligent contact tracing, and immigration and community health protocols. The island also earned the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) “Safe Travels” stamp for its achievement of top global health standards.