Getting to Barbados this winter
Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Thinking about a winter holiday in the sun? Barbados is a beautiful island and currently exempt from the FCDO advice against all non-essential international travel, which means you're still covered by your travel insurance and you won't have to go through the dreaded two-week quarantine when you get home.
Read on to find out more about the Barbados quarantine process from a first-hand account of flying from Heathrow to Bridgetown with Virgin Atlantic.
You'll need a negative PCR test to travel
If you're from (or transiting through) a country classified as high or medium risk, you will need a negative PCR test to travel.
This means flying out on a Monday or Tuesday is almost impossible, as you need to have the test done within 72h of arrival, get the results back, and upload them on the immigration/customs form 24h before you depart.
Ideally, you'll need to find a lab that can send you the results 24h (48h max). Prices for private PCR tests in the UK can vary from £110 to £250.
As the UK is currently classified as high risk, you'll need to spend a few days in quarantine in a hotel, villa, or government facility, and receive a second negative PCR before being able to really start your holiday. The second test is usually taken 4-5 days after your first test.
Have your results ready at check in
At the moment, Virgin flights from Heathrow depart from T2 (the terminal has just been refurbished and has a very modern feel to it. Drop off was easy!)
At check in they asked to see our test results. Having them printed made it easier for staff to check them, both in London and upon arrival in Barbados, so we would recommend printing them if you can.
Arriving at Bridgetown
When we landed, the crew asked to stay seated as a bus would take us to the terminal. Each bus had a capacity of 50 people, so we disembarked a few rows at a time.
The first checkpoint was to show our negative test results. Once a representative looked over these, we were allowed through to the arrivals hall, had our temperature checked, and handed a form to fill out "for the nurse". We provided our contact details and signed our consent to stay in quarantine until we received a second negative test.
We had to fill this out before joining the immigration queue, and only one form per family was needed (filling this out quickly will help avoid joining a long queue at immigration).
Next, we received a red wrist band to show we had arrived from a "high risk" country, and asked if we had made a booking at an approved hotel or villa. Then we were given another wrist band with the name of our hotel (you can also choose to stay in a government facility for free).
After showing our wristbands and contact form at the next checkpoint, we joined the immigration queue. We held up our passports to the officer and showed them our printed immigration/customs form which had a barcode on it. This whole process was very fast.
At the next checkpoint, we handed over the consent form with our contact details. The nurse gave us some temperature check forms and asked us to fill them in with morning and evening readings for the next 14 days.
(There are no trolleys at the airport, so if you need help with your bags, ask one of the red cap porters. They charge $2 USD per bag and $3 USD for each oversized bag.)
Once we collected our luggage, we proceeded through the green customs channel and walked towards the exit. Here there was another checkpoint; we reconfirmed our names, our flight number, and where we would be staying. They gave us the name and description of our hotel rep that would be organising our transport.
Finally, as we walked through to the arrivals area, we got to the last check. We gave our name and hotel once more, and the hotel rep came to find us.
Although there were many checkpoints (about 8 or so), everything was very well organised and we were welcomed with smiles.
Having all our forms printed out and at hand definitely helped streamline the whole process.
Getting to our hotel
We were taken to our hotel in a small shared bus (in total there were about 7 of us).
At check-in they gave us a warm welcome and a rum punch, perfect!
They cut the airport wristbands off and gave us new ones. Each hotel uses their own colour system, but in our case, we were required to wear blue bands until receiving our second negative test.
Clear instructions were given about where we could go. These were basically to stick to the hotel grounds, not get close to other people, and that one swimming pool had been reserved for blue band guests only.
Although we were not allowed to visit the hotel restaurants, room service was available. (Companies such as Hopscotch can also deliver restaurant dishes to your hotel or villa).
At this point they also checked our test results, and confirmed we could have our second one 2 days later (which was 4 days after our original test).
Some hotels can arrange for it to be done in the hotel at your own cost, but others may require you to travel to an arranged facility.
The second test
On the morning of our second test, they called us to confirm what time we should go and see the doctor. We waited outside for a while, there seemed to be lots of people having tests that day. We filled out some forms with our names, flight number and contact details, and then the test was done. Again, the whole process was well organised.
The nurse told us the doctor would call our room in the morning and inform us of the results.
The next day we had to wait quite a long time before hearing anything. After speaking to reception it was clear they were processing a high number of tests. But at 10 o'clock they called us and let us know we had all received negative results.
Thursday: PCR Test
Friday: Received negative results. Filled out the immigration/customs form and uploaded our results.
Saturday: Landed in Bridgetown, checked in to quarantine approved hotel
Monday: Second PCR Test
Tuesday: Received negative results. Free to enjoy Barbados!
Check the Visit Barbados website for update information and a full list of approved quarantine accommodation. There are almost 90 hotels on the list to suit all budgets.