The BTA has “assigned team members to be at the JFK airport to assist Bermuda-bound travellers” and “additional staff has been added to answer calls” to the Covid-19 hotline, the Government said this evening.
A Government spokesperson said, “We are working around the clock to make this vital process seamless and easier for travellers. The Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA] has assigned team members to be at the JFK airport to assist Bermuda-bound travellers to navigate any potential issues with travel authorisation forms.
“In addition, the Ministry of Health has provided a dedicated resource for the on-site agent with a direct line to Bermuda’s COVID-19 call centre. The agent will be located at the ticketing/check-in area of the terminal and will help identify issues and provide direct assistance.”
BTA CEO Charles Jeffers said, “Our dedicated team rose to the challenge and on Thursday and Friday worked at JFK Airport with check-in agents of both Jet Blue and Delta airlines to assist travellers. This was a welcome addition, and the ability to connect directly with the local TA team made it easy to resolve the few issues that arose.
“This week we will renew the effort, and we encourage Bermuda bound travellers to ask for our help if they need it as they check-in for their flights. A BTA representative will be at JFK airport again on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. We will add representatives at other gateway airports in the coming days.”
A spokesperson said, “The public is reminded that all residents two years and older must complete and submit a Bermuda COVID-19 Travel Authorisation. All visitors two years and older must complete and submit a Bermuda COVID-19 Travel Authorisation. Please fill out a Travel Authorisation before intended travel and have all documents ready before starting the TA process. This includes COVID-19 test results, vaccine certificates and hotel/exemption confirmations, if applicable.
“Like any travel form, extra care should be taken when completing the TA. In many cases, forms have incorrect email addresses or expired documents uploaded. The team quickly addresses these issues, and we do all we can to make travel just a little less stressful in these times.”
‘The most common reason a TA is being rejected for residents is that they do not upload their vaccine certificates. As well, TA’s are being rejected because travellers’ PCR test results do not meet the approval criteria. For example, the test is an antigen test, or the result document does not contain the letters “PCR” on it.
“The Bermuda Government will email your travel authorisation to you when it has been approved. So, you must provide the correct email address and check your inbox, spam or junk mail.
“The COVID-19 helpline is operating from 8 am until 8 pm, seven days a week, and additional staff has been added to answer calls. If you do not have all of the information and your TA is rejected, please call the COVID-19 helpline at 444-2498 for assistance immediately.”
The spokesperson noted, “There are 15 people on the hotline daily handling phones calls, emails and travel authorisations and nine people on the evening shift. The numbers have been maintained this weekend, and we are working with the Department of Workforce Development to identify at least ten more people who can be immediately added to the hotline team this week.
“To assist those with rejected TAs further, the helpline team contacts the traveller to facilitate a TA approval. A toll-free number is available for travellers calling the COVID-19 helpline from the United States and Canada. The number is 1-833-570-2594.
“Returning Bermudian students who left the island between the periods of 1 July, 2020 and 6 May, 2021, who are required to quarantine at a designated facility, the cost of their stay will be covered by the Government. More information can be found here.
The spokesperson concluded: “TAs are a necessary tool in our border protection framework. We remain grateful for the patience of travellers and continue to be committed to making the process seamless and providing more timely assistance.”