By: Michele Robson
For a short while, it looked like the travel industry was beginning to recover as more countries began to open up. In Europe, governments were encouraged to open borders. As the second wave started to grow in Europe, more countries became out of reach as new restrictions were introduced.
As the list of high-risk countries on Barbados's list began to expand, people were initially alarmed. The rules meant that travelers from these countries needed to quarantine for 14 days, effectively killing most tourism. But before you cancel that vacation or stop planning your visit, you need to take a look at the new regulations that come into effect from October 1, 2020.
Barbados has had a low number of COVID-19 cases, with just 190 in total. Unsurprisingly they are keen to keep it that way. However, tourism is around 35% of the country's GDP, and 10% of Barbadians are employed in the industry. As the high-risk list grew, Barbados faced the dilemma for every government worldwide - how to balance containing COVID-19 with the effect on the economy.
From October 1, new regulations mean that most high-risk visitors will only quarantine for a couple of days. They will need to have a negative PCR test before they fly within 72 hours of their arrival time. Then a second test four to five days from when they took the original test, not when they arrived. With results coming overnight, this means that most people will not need to be at the quarantine hotel for more than three nights at the most. While you wait for the results, your movements are restricted to the hotel or villa you stay in.
Even then, to most people, the idea of quarantine sounds like you will be locked in a windowless room for days with meals left outside the door. But again, this could not be further from the truth. Tourists have a choice of where they spend quarantine. You can stay for free at a government facility, which probably will not be the choice of many, or stay at a hotel or approved villa. There are many hotels to choose from, including several at the more luxury end, such as Sandals Royal Barbados, Hilton, and The Crane.
The Crane is even doing special packages, including transfers and your second test. Many of their suites include a private pool, but you can also use the designated hotel pool for quarantine guests. Sure, you may not be able to enjoy a candlelit dinner in the restaurant. However, with most luxury hotels offering large room terraces or balconies, you can still enjoy the sunset and some cocktails from your patio.
Once people understand that the quarantine can be an enjoyable way to relax for a few days before heading out to explore the island, they may be inclined to continue with their vacation. For many, the extra safety given by the measures may add reassurance for traveling to Barbados. The crucial part will be how Barbados manage to communicate precisely what quarantine in paradise looks like before people decide to abandon their trip.