With fewer than 700 miles and 90 minutes separating the East Coast from the island of Bermuda, it may seem like the perfect destination for a quick, easy getaway at a time when travel has never been more complicated.
But during a recent trip to check out the new St. Regis Bermuda Resort, I found myself wondering if I’d spent more time preparing for my trip to Bermuda than actually enjoying it.
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Like many destinations, Bermuda has a number of regulations in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the island. But as some parts of the world are beginning to ease restrictions, Bermuda’s borders have only shut tighter.
When I traveled to Bermuda in June, for example, the requisite PCR test needed to enter the country had to be taken within five days of travel. By the time I flew home, the timeframe had shrunk. Now, according to the local government, all travelers 2 and older must have a test result taken within four days of arrival.
The flight to Bermuda from the New York City area is short and painless, to be sure. But in addition to the PCR test taken prior to departure, visitors also need to apply for Travel Authorization one to three days before arrival with the negative test result. The authorization costs $75 and covers the cost of an on-arrival test.
Even after landing at Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA), travelers aren’t in the clear.
I waited for roughly an hour at the airport while my documents were checked (printed and signed copies of the travel authorization form; my proof of vaccination; my negative PCR test result). Though residents were processed a bit more quickly, multiple flights landed at the same time, and there were a lot of people at the airport waiting eagerly to begin their Bermuda vacations.
Before leaving the airport, all new arrivals were given red wristbands and another COVID-19 test. At the time, being vaccinated barely altered the experience. Since I was fully vaccinated, I was allowed to cut off my wristband and enjoy a quarantine-free trip to Bermuda once my test results arrived later that evening. Until then, I had to stay at the hotel. Non-vaccinated travelers were required to sport the wristband for the first two weeks of their trip.
Often, being able to provide proof of vaccination is like waving a gold ticket: You can typically avoid most testing and quarantine requirements. It wasn’t until after I returned from Bermuda that the requirements for unvaccinated travelers became even more onerous.
Now, a quick trip to Bermuda is more or less implausible for travelers who aren’t inoculated, since a 14-day quarantine at a government-approved hotel is now required.
During my two-night stay at the St. Regis, I technically spent one night quarantined at the hotel. I took a total of three tests (one PCR test for the travel authorization form; the on-arrival test; and a third to make sure I didn’t have any issues reentering the U.S.) and I would have been required to submit to even more testing throughout my trip if I stayed any longer. The cost of testing could cost a family of four at least $300 just to get in.
There may be a sweet spot for travelers staying three nights, but anyone with plans to visit the island for longer, regardless of vaccination status, has additional testing requirements to keep in mind.
And there’s the very real threat of testing positive during your stay, which could result in a lengthy (read: very expensive) quarantine in Bermuda. If that doesn’t make your beach vacation a bit more stressful than usual, I don’t know what would.
If a Bermuda getaway is at the top of your to-do list right now, it’s not impossible. But for unvaccinated travelers, it may not make much sense unless you’ve been dreaming of an extended stay at one of the half-dozen government-approved hotels (including Coco Reef Resort, Willowbank Resort and, most notably, the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club).
And everyone, including vaccinated travelers, needs to take the very real expense and stress (there really isn’t anything relaxing about nasal swabs) into consideration.
Bermuda may claim to be open, but for many people, it may be best to wait until the island relaxes some of its entry requirements before planning a trip. And for unvaccinated travelers, the message is more than clear.
Entry requirements for vaccinated travelers
Fully vaccinated travelers (people who received the full course of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to travel) who are 2 years of age or older must still apply for a Travel Authorization form with the result of a negative COVID-19 PCR test.
The test, at this time, must be taken within four days of arrival.
Upon arrival, immunized travelers will submit to another COVID-19 test, and quarantine until the results of that test arrive. Travelers must also take tests on the fourth and 10th day of their trip.
Travelers should be prepared to bring their initial COVID-19 test result, the travel authorization form and proof of vaccination.
Entry requirements for unvaccinated travelers
Now, unimmunized travelers must quarantine upon arrival at an approved quarantine hotel at their own expense for two weeks.
Travelers can apply for an exemption, but will still be required to quarantine at a residence for 14 days and receive a final COVID-19 test at the end of the quarantine. They may also be required to wear a quarantine bracelet and be visited by the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
Like vaccinated travelers, unvaccinated visitors to Bermuda who are 2 years of age or older must apply for travel authorization ($75) one to three days prior to arrival with a negative COVID-19 test result taken within four days of arrival. They’ll also need to take a test on arrival.
But unvaccinated visitors must also pay for their two-week stay at a quarantine hotel in full and have proof of payment, and quarantine there until day 13, when they’ll take a final COVID-19 test.
Children traveling to Bermuda
Children 2 and older must have a negative COVID-19 test taken within four days of arrival. Those under the age of 2 are not required to test.
Parents must complete a Travel Authorization form, and provide their reference number when completing the authorization form for their child.
Non-vaccinated children with vaccinated parents must quarantine with their parents at their accommodation until the results of the on-arrival COVID-19 test come back negative. They must also test on the fourth and 10th days with their parents.
Children with unimmunized parents will stay at the quarantine hotel until the 13th day, when they can be released with their parents after receiving a negative COVID-19 test result.