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Strict protocols as 132 arrive on first commercial flight

CARLOS ATWELL, ​[email protected]

Strict protocols as 132 arrive on first commercial flight

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They came to work, relax, visit family and one person even came to grieve.

The arrivals hall of the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) was abuzz this afternoon as the island welcomed its first international commercial flight since borders were closed to limit spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Air Canada flight, which was delayed about an hour, arrived about 2:20 p.m. and anxious people were waiting to see their loved ones for the first time in months.

Howard Henry was the first through the doors and said he was back home to get back to work. Sarah Thomson had not seen her 14-year-old son Noah since February and was overjoyed to have him with her for the few months before he returned to Toronto.

For Jackie Vanderpool, it was a solemn occasion as she was here as a result of a family tragedy. 

Most of those who arrived said the process was smooth as they presented the results of their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA test and other relevant forms.

Port health officials verified the negative PCR COVID-19 tests of passengers, and directed those who did not have a PCR test, or who didn’t meet the verification requirements, to the testing facility located at Gate 14.

Of the 132 passengers who arrived on the flight, about 15 to 20 were processed in the testing facility, and would await their results at an approved facility, according to Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds.

Symmonds and Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, joined senior officials of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and GAIA Inc. to witness the arrival.

The minister said he was “relatively satisfied” that the entire process went as planned, but a few amendments may be made going forward.

Strict COVID-19 protocols were in place at the airport, including use of sanitisation stations and increased signage related to the new arrivals proces. Physical distancing markers were affixed to seats and floors and airport employees wore personal protective equipment, such as face shields and masks.

Anyone travelling to Barbados is encouraged to take a PCR test 72 hours prior to their departure.

Gate 14, which previously facilitated sea-to-air 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. (CA)

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