On Feb. 3, 2021, Barbados implemented a new set of COVID-19 protocols for travelers—including a mandatory quarantine, during which you'll have to wear a tracking bracelet that keeps tabs on your location. House arrest in paradise, anyone?
Upon arrival to the Caribbean nation, travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within the previous three days. But even with that result, everyone will still need to undergo a mandatory five-day quarantine in either a pre-approved hotel, where you'll be confined to your room or a private villa. It's not clear whether the hotel-room quarantine is at the traveler's expense—we've reached out to the Barbados tourism authority for comment and will update with their response.
While you're quarantining, you must don a waterproof tracking bracelet that will monitor your location to ensure you're adhering to your quarantine—if you tamper with it, the authorities will be notified. And anyone caught breaking quarantine faces up to a $50,000 fine or up to a 12-month stint in jail.
On the fifth day of your stay, you'll have to take another COVID-19 PCR test—if those results are negative, you'll be free to leave your quarantine facility. Keep in mind that those results may take 48 hours to arrive, so you could be in quarantine for up to a full week. The whole process (and penalties for breaking protocols) might seem a little intense, but remember, we're still in the middle of a pandemic! And safety needs to come first.
Barbados isn't the only country to dabble with electronic tracking devices: other countries testing similar programs include Singapore, India, and Bulgaria, among others. While this is one way to ensure that people follow quarantine rules, some groups question the methodology, citing privacy concerns.
"Unprecedented levels of surveillance, data exploitation, and misinformation are being tested across the world," London-based watchdog group Privacy International wrote in a blog post. But it refrained from writing these surveillance methods off entirely: "Some may be effective and based on advice from epidemiologists, others will not be. But all of them must be temporary, necessary, and proportionate."
While Barbados' mandatory quarantine itself seems perfectly reasonable, the idea of tracking bracelets does make us feel a little uneasy. Staying home might not be such a bad idea after all.