85% pretested for COVID on Barbados' first commercial flight
One of the first passengers to exit the Arrivals Hall off of AC966 today (July 12).
Barbados' Tourism Minister was "relatively satisfied" with how commercial air travel resumed at the Grantley Adams International Airport once he saw the post-COVID-19 protocols unfold in real-time.
The Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) officially reopened to commercial air traffic today (July 12) with the arrival of Air Canada Flight AC966 from Toronto at approximately 2.20 pm. The flight was delayed out of Pearson International this morning.
To mark the momentous occasion for the tourist destination, the Barbados Fire Service performed a water salute.
According to the Government Information Service, once at its gate, the 132 passengers disembarked in batches and were greeted by music performed by the Royal Barbados Police Force Band. Among one of the first arriving passengers was Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados, Marie Legault.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds, and Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, joined senior officials of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) and GAIA Inc. to witness the arrival.
In addition to numerous sanitisation stations and increased signage related to the new arrivals processes, there were strict COVID-19 protocols in place at the airport. Physical distancing markers were affixed to seats and floors. Airport employees were all outfitted in personal protective equipment, such as face shields and masks.
Port health officials verified the negative PCR COVID-19 tests of passengers and directed those who did not take a PCR test prior to arrival or who didn’t meet the verification requirements to the testing facility located at Gate 14. Persons travelling to Barbados are being asked to take a PCR test 72 hours prior to their arrival to forego testing on landing once they test negative and the result is suthentic.
Gate 14, which previously facilitated air-to-sea transfer passengers, has been transformed into a new arrivals hall, equipped with a thermal imaging scanner, an immigration area, a testing bay, seating and a luggage collection point.
Minister Symmonds said that the entire process went as planned, but disclosed a few amendments may be made going forward.
“The vast majority of people did come with a negative test. As they went down the corridor…, the health officials validate your test and once they are satisfied you go through to Arrivals,” he said.
The Tourism Minister disclosed that approximately 15 to 20 passengers were processed in the testing facility, and would await their results at an approved facility.
On exiting the Arrivals Hall, those passengers who had their negative test results and ED cards (Embarkation/Disembarkation) collected a welcome package from the BTMI reps before greeting their family members or proceeding to the taxis. Travellers were required to complete the online Immigration and Customs Form (ED card) which was available 72 hours prior to their arrival in Barbados.
The packages contained hand sanitizer and other goodies, all in a yellow drawstring bag with the word Barbados in blue on the outside,