Travel in the time of COVID-19
At this point in the pandemic, we’re all going a little stir crazy, and if the opportunity to travel presents itself, I’m sure we’re all going to want to take it! I know I did.
With entry requirements and restrictions varying from country to country and changing seemingly every single day, it may seem like it’s not worth the effort. But I promise you it is!
I’m going to share what I had to do and whatever other information I have, to hopefully make your travel process a little simpler!
- Choose your destination(s)
This may seem simple enough but this is not the time to be spontaneous and go to multiple destinations without proper planning.
- Make sure you’re fully vaccinated! – honestly it’s safer, and easier for entry in to multiple places.
- Book accommodation and check entry requirements for each country.
- Get your international vaccination card. It’s available at your CMOH office (I got mine done in Belmont). You need: Proof of upcoming travel, proof of vaccination.
I’m going to use my itinerary as a guide:
- July 31: Trinidad -> Barbados
- Aug 3: Barbados -> New York
- Aug 4: New York -> Iceland
- Aug 11: Iceland -> London
- Aug 14: London -> Barbados
- Aug 15: Barbados -> Trinidad
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Look up what is required for your destination. Even if you feel like you looked it up last week, look again, these things change by the day.
Barbados has one of the most comprehensive websites when it comes to planning your travels, and it’s laid out really well.
Entry in to the country is broken down in to Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated travelers.
Check their list for approved vaccines but it includes: Astra-Zeneca, Sinopharm, Moderna, Pfizer etc
I am fully vaccinated (which is defined as having completed the dosing regimen of a WHO approved vaccine + 2 weeks).
Before I traveled I needed to do a nasopharyngeal PCR test from an approved lab within 72 hours of traveling – no rapid tests accepted, no self tests etc. I used TriCareTT located at Heartland Plaza, Chaguanas, and they were super efficient and gentle. Done on 29/07/2021.
There’s a form you need to fill out before you travel and download the BIMSAFE app to link it.
- Disembark the plane row by row to social distance.
- As you get to the airport, there is an option for ‘Meet and Greet’ which certain incoming passengers opt for, but in my experience, I got through just as quickly as the set of Meet and Greet passengers that disembarked with me.
- At the checkpoint you present your:
• Negative PCR test (can be electronic)
• Vaccination certificate
• Ensure your travel form is filled out(electronic)
• Accommodation(electronic) – Important: You must book a hotel for the first night (24hrs) of your stay, regardless of where you intend on staying after. There is a list of approved Hotels on the Barbados website (almost all on island).
- Next they give you a coloured wristband based on vaccination status and PCR test:
I was fully vaxxed and had an approved negative PCR test, so I received a green wristband. From there I was seated and waited my turn to be swabbed.
- After being swabbed, I was allowed to exit to Immigration and Baggage Claim.
I took an airport taxi to my hotel. At the hotel, they looked at the green wristband and told me that I could move around the hotel premises – use the pool, go to the bar etc, but I could not leave until I got back my test from the airport.
- My test came back around 14 hours later in the wee hours of the morning, at which point you email it to the hotel front desk and you’re free!
- Please note that there is a mask mandate in place in Barbados currently, and gatherings are limited to 100 people, and the curfew is 11:00 pm sharp.
I was leaving Barbados and heading to Iceland but I was passing through New York for 24 hours to catch a flight. However, Iceland and New York both required negative nasopharyngeal PCR test from an approved lab within 72 hours of traveling – no rapid tests accepted, no self tests etc.
Luckily, on the same Barbados website, there was a list of testing facilities on the island. I gravitated towards places that could easily be booked online. I used Barbados Covid Lab located at The Crane Hotel and they were extremely efficient. Done on 02/08/2021.
My results came back within 12 hours and I was set to travel!
ARRIVAL IN THE USA
Now the USA probably cares the least about vaccine status etc on entry. Although our airline departing Barbados (JetBlue) required us to present our negative PCR, on arrival at JFK, nobody was concerned about testing status, vaccination status etc.
Just a pre-flight form to fill out, again airline mandated, then standard immigration process on land.
Leaving the USA within 24 hours to travel to Iceland was ideal because it meant I could use the same test from Barbados for entry in to Iceland!
ARRIVING IN ICELAND
Due to Iceland’s large population of vaccinated persons ~ 70%, despite having ‘record’ number of cases, they lifted all entry restrictions in terms of countries, quarantine etc.
However, I still needed my negative PCR as before, along with a form https://www.covid.is/english that needed to be completed before traveling to Iceland.
When I arrived they checked:
- Negative PCR test
- Vaccination status
- Completed form from above
The only issue I had was that they were hesitant about our (Trinidad and Tobago’s) International Vaccination card because it was handwritten and they found that strange.
Once everything checked out, we were allowed to leave the airport freely.
There is no mask mandate in place throughout the country but we chose to wear them at all times inside cars, public places like the airport, inside stores etc.
LEAVING ICELAND -> ENTERING UK
Now this is where the whole process got tricky. At the end of July, the USA was supposed to lift travel restrictions from the UK and EU. We were hoping to return through JFK, but no such luck.
The UK and EU had lifted travel restrictions from the USA for the summer period in the interest of tourism. However despite pressure from the airlines, and other countries, the USA did not reciprocate. Currently, you CANNOT enter the USA from the UK/EU if you are not a US citizen or have some special exemption.
Therefore, we had to head through London instead.
Entering the UK is extremely complicated because they categorize where you’ve been in to Red, Amber or Green countries, and each have their own set of rules for entry.
If you were to fly to the UK having been in Trinidad the last 10 days, you would be DENIED entry because we are listed as a red list country. You must be out of a red list country for 10 days unless you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK. Even so, you will still have to quarantine and do multiple covid tests on entry.
Luckily, because I flew through Barbados and spent a few days, then New York for a day, and then Iceland for a week, I was able to enter the UK as having been through green and amber countries and followed those rules.
For a full list of rules for different territories: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england#amber-list-rules
- PCR test before entry
- Fill out a passenger locator form
- Provide my vaccination card
- COVID-19 test on day 2 of being in the country (your day of arrival is day 0).
LEAVING UK -> ENTERING BARBADOS
Same requirements as above ^^^
- A negative Covid-19 (nasopharyngeal swab) RT-PCR test result 72hours (3days) prior to arrival.
- An approved Travel Authorization from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago via www.ttravelpass.gov.tt
- Proof of vaccination
I hope this clarified the process for anyone who was interested!