Frowns are about to turn into smiles for arriving passengers at the Grantley Adams Airport.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins yesterday said the latest protocol changes would bring a quick end to bottlenecks that had become the norm at two gates of the airport and there would now be a smoother transition from aircraft to the arrivals hall.
Cummins was speaking during a press conference yesterday at which it was revealed that arriving passengers would no longer have to present negative PCR test results at the airport, which would now be accepting negative antigen tests for the COVID-19 virus.
She said there had been significant challenges with long lines and even longer waits at gates 14 and 16, where public health officials had set up a special facility to check PCR test results.
The minister noted that the decision to move to antigen testing would not only assist Barbadians returning home but also gave the country the advantage of being chosen as a destination by tourists who had been finding it difficult to secure PCR testing at home.
She said many Caribbean destinations had already made the move to antigen tests acceptance based on the available science.
“In the last two weeks we have been working on the congestion issues . . . . A number of visitors from our primary source markets had expressed challenges with being able to access the required (PCR) tests, in particular, coming out of the North American market. In addition, a number of visitors arrived with the wrong test, which led to retesting,” she revealed.
Cummins said with the need to spend in some instances as much as US$250 per person in a family to get a PCR test now removed, visitors could direct more spending to other things in Barbados.
“The move from gates 14 and 16 back to the arrivals hall is a significant change in the process. We are now, from last night [Friday night] accepting passengers getting off their aircraft and heading to gates nine and 13 through the arrivals hall. For the majority of the passengers arriving . . . now, there will no longer be a need for the buses to take them to the arrivals hall.”
Cummins said that in two weeks Barbados would be rolling out a new, advanced ED immigration form. (BA)