Those wishing to travel to Barbados will now have an easy to follow option to complete pre-travel COVID-19 testing.
Lisa Cummins, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, announced last week during a virtual press conference a new partnership with StageZero Life Sciences, a lab that will provide at home tests with results available within 24-48 hours prior to traveling.
Cummins said Americans and Canadians – key source markets for Barbados – have faced “challenges getting test results back within three days” time frame required, particularly in Canada.
Don Thomson, StageZero Life Sciences, noted that in many markets, access to testing can be an issue as can getting results back before a passenger is scheduled to fly. If they receive the results after the 72 hour window, they have to cancel their flight.
That’s an important requirement for Barbados, Cummins said, as it gives confidence to other travelers and residents that everyone entering the country has tested negative for the coronavirus. “It was a challenge with travel confidence very early in the pandemic, that they were on the place sitting next to someone who has not tested,” she said, and the mandatory three-day window alleviates that.
Through the new program, StageZero will eliminate these concerns by providing end-to-end testing for travelers entering Barbados. The lab, available to those in the U.S. and Canada, can turn results around in 24-48 hours. “That is key, we have consistently done that,” said Thomson.
Via a dedicated website for Barbados travelers, travelers will enter when they are flying and book a PCR test within the allotted timeframe. The test along with instructions will be sent in the mail, and a supervisor arrive at the person’s house during the scheduled appointment time. The results will then be sent via an encrypted email.
The upfront cost for one individual runs USD $264 and CA $340, including shipping, though the price per test decreases when the number of people per family goes up. A few days after the test is completed, a statement will be provided for the traveler to submit to their insurance provider.
Dr. Songee Beckles, Ministry of Health and Wellness of Barbados, added that PCR tests from other providers are still accepted.
“Travel as we knew it before has changed dramatically. Continue to work with our partners to ensure that we can bring back travel. It’s out economic lifeline, and it’s not something we can sit back and wait for to return,” said Petra Roach, Interim CEO for Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Indeed, many Caribbean countries are developing these partnerships with labs or airlines who have already partnered with a lab to provide a convenient option for visitors. By removing any confusion or hassle in the pre-travel process, the aim is to encourage more travelers to book vacations and move ahead with travel plans.