A number of Canadians who travelled to Barbados and found delays prevented them from obtaining COVID tests needed to return home may get a financial reprieve.
As of Jan. 7, rules require Canadian travellers to show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight home, and upon landing, they must quarantine for 14 days by law.
Backlogs in testing have resulted in some Canadians in Barbados not being able to get the required test before their scheduled flights. Testing delays also meant some travellers in Barbados were stuck in their hotel rooms beyond a mandatory 72-hour quarantine period imposed by the island’s government.
Barbados Tourism Minister Lisa Cummins said in a statement Sunday those unable to leave their rooms will be offered refunds. On top of that, the local government said it’s willing to pay for return trips to Barbados in the future.
“I wish to announce that if your results are outstanding beyond 72 hours, the Government of Barbados will cover the cost of your hotel room until you are able to get those test results,” said Cummins, adding the refund applies to over 230 travellers.
“We know most of you want to be able to come back because you didn’t come here to stay in your hotel room. We appreciate you for respecting our quarantine rules … and staying in your room, but we want to offer you an opportunity to come back.”
One man, who didn’t wish to be identified, said he arrived Jan. 2 in the Caribbean country and was told to book two nights in a quarantine hotel where he would be able to use the pool while social distancing.
Two days later, due to a recent outbreak of cases, the government shut down the pool at the hotel and mandated people had to stay in their rooms.
A medical worker stands at the COVID-19 test centre, after a number of passengers on the cruise were tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Barbados, November 7, 2020.
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“It is currently day seven, and we are still stuck in our room,” said the traveller on Saturday in an email.
“The COVID hotline must be so busy they have yet to answer our call. Our flight back is Monday, and we will likely not get our test results by then. Barbados should be avoided at all costs for the foreseeable future.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced any Canadians who opted to disregard public health advice and travel would not be eligible for COVID-19 sick leave benefits, and booking a trip would be at their own risk. Non-essential travel has been consistently discouraged by government and health officials.
According to the news website, Barbados Today, the island has recorded more than 800 COVID-19 cases since March 2020.