We returned to Canada in March due to the COVID 19 pandemic. However, since we are nomads, we didn’t have a house to return to. After being taken in by family for a few months, our hotel life resumed. When the weather turned to winter we knew it was time to get going again. The decision to recommence international travel was not an easy one. After a lot of deliberation we picked a direct one way flight to Barbados. They seemed to be taking the pandemic seriously and we liked that. Getting to Barbados during COVID was not that difficult. Here is how we did it.
Step 1 - Book a Flight
We were flying out of Toronto. The flight needed to be direct into Bridgetown, Barbados. There was no availability in business on miles. Therefore we decided to book premium seats closer to the front and with a bit more room. I took the aisle and Rob the window. Thankfully no one booked the middle seat and we exhaled for the 5 hour flight.
Step 2 - Book Accommodations
Upon arrival, all guests to Barbados from high risk (US, Canada, European Countries, etc.,) and medium risk (Australia, New Zealand, etc.,) countries need to stay in their room until they have a second negative PCR COVID test. Only a few places have outdoor space where new arrivals can stretch their legs or go for a swim. Ultimately, we chose the Hilton Resort Barbados due to it being one of the approved accommodations that has such luxuries.
Step 3 - Book a PCR COVID test
All travelers to Barbados need to arrive with a negative PCR COVID – 19 test which was performed within 72 hours of arrival. The only exception is Canada. However, I highly encourage you to get the test done prior to arrival. Why you ask? Well, your second test (the one that sets you free on the island) can only be done on day 4 from the date of your first test. If you get the test done in Canada, you don’t need to wait as long in quarantine. This is the critical piece that was not that clearly spelled out in the Getting to Barbados during COVID brochure.
Where to get a PCR COVID test
Barbados has partnered with StageZero Life Sciences to conduct these 72 hour PCR tests. In the US the cost is $265/person or $425 for two. The cost in Canada is $340 CAD/person or $590 CAD for two.
Where to get a FREE PCR COVID test
We were able to get our tests done for free in Toronto, Canada. The test is available through Women’s College Hospital. Results (which are available via their website) are usually provided within 12 hours of getting the test done. In summary, here are the steps:
- Get the test done 24-36 hours prior to arriving in Barbados.
- The day prior to that 24-36 hour window book the test here. Try to book it early in the morning as the slots fill up quickly.
- The entry screen does not list international travel as one of the qualifying criteria. However, it is one as verified by a doctor at the hospital. Just press yes to start the registration process on the first screen.
- If you do not have the provincial medical insurance (OHIP), then on the second screen under Coverage Information enter – other. By doing this, the OHIP entry fields disappear. At this point all you have to do is enter the remaining personal information and hit submit.
- A doctor will call from the hospital within 1-4 hours. They will ask you some questions and book your appointment for the following day.
- Next, you will receive an email confirming your appointment for the following day which will contain an MRN number. You will need this number for your appointment.
- In addition, you will require the MRN number to register to receive your test results online. We were able to time it perfectly so that our negative test results arrived prior to flying. It is also recommended to print the results as you will be asked for them upon arrival.
Step 4 - Immigration/Customs Form
Within 24 hours of arriving in Barbados, you will also need to fill in and submit the Immigration and Customs Form. Make sure to have the forms available either via mobile device, or print form for arrival.
Step 5 - The Flight
I have to say that this part was quite trying for me. Most people wore their masks. However, the people around us did not. They ate or drank for the majority of the flight. Ultimately, masks were only put on upon the direct request of the flight attendant, only to be removed as soon as she left. Bottom line, Rob and I wore our KN95’s for the duration of the flight and hoped for the best.
Step 6 - The Arrival
We got off the plane right onto the warm tarmac. The sun was hot and the ocean breeze so lovely. Above all, we were thinking that getting to Barbados during the COVID 19 pandemic was not so tough!
First stop was to show our negative COVID 19 test paperwork. Next we were ushered inside to show our immigration and customs form. Another form needed to be filled in. After that, a scarlet red cloth quarantine bracelet was placed on our wrists. Then another temporary bracelet with the name of our hotel was added.
At this time our temperature was taken. Consequently we thought that we were scot free. Unfortunately, the next line proved us wrong. This line was for the nurse who told us the following:
- Self temperature checks need to be done twice a day for 7 days and sent via What’s App to: 1 -246-836-3565
- A second COVID test needs to be booked by us. It is required to be carried out on the 4th or 5th day from our original test. The number to call to arrange for the free government test is: 1 -246- 538 – 4500
In summary, ladies and gentlemen, this took 2.5 hours to wait for!
Step 7 - 2nd COVID test
There are three options for the second test:
- The free government test.
- Hotel test which costs $150 USD per person. The nurse comes to the hotel and test results are provided within 24 hours.
- Expedited hotel test which costs $325 USD per person. The nurse comes to the hotel and the test results are provided within 12 hours.
Ultimately we chose the free government test. The only cost associated with this is the taxi to get there ($70 USD). It took us 3 hours for the process.
Getting the Free COVID test in Barbados
The process is quite simple. The hotline number was not answering so we booked the test through the hotel. The cab picked us up in a large air conditioned van. The cabbie had special training for this service and knew the drill.
There are 6 centers around Barbados for testing. We chose the one behind the airport as it was closest to us. There are 2 times a day that testing is provided Monday through Saturday. We chose the afternoon. In hindsight I would recommend the morning as the tests would come back faster.
Upon arrival, all cabs line up in a field about 500 meters away from the tiny house designated for the test. As the line progresses, the car repositions itself, closer and closer to the test house. We were not allowed to leave the taxi during the waiting period.
After about an hour, a doctor came to take our information. He wrote our names on two test tubes and handed them to us to bring in. Inside the house there were two nurses performing the tests. Thankfully, for some reason this one was a bit less painful.
And we were all done! The cabbie drove us back to our hotel. We were instructed to stay in quarantine until after our second test result came back negative. This happened 36 hours after. Woohoo, we were free to explore the island.
Step 8 - Enjoying the Island
In conclusion, getting to Barbados during COVID took some planning. However, we were able to get here responsibly and safely. We have already been here for over 3 weeks and plan on staying much longer.
More posts to follow about living on this lovely island!
Have you been to Barbados? Any recommendations on what we must do or see? Would love to hear from you.