I value my autonomy. That’s a key factor that lured me down the path of entrepreneurship. To me, having the power to decide what I work on, who I work with, when I work, and where I work is equivalent to a golden ticket. So yes. Amid a global pandemic, I chose to pack my bags and use that ticket to jump on a flight to Accra, Ghana.
I can already feel the judgment! People questioning ‘why would anyone travel from Canada to Ghana when the second wave of Covid-19 is among us?’ I have a thousand reasons. The weather is beautiful, the food is delicious, the people are kind, the business opportunities are plenty, and I feel at home in Ghana. I feel safe. This is big guys, because for me safety has always been a priority fueled by anxiety, resulting in my tendency to over-plan everything I do. But, despite my impeccable planning abilities, I encountered a couple hiccups…so here’s the asterisk.
Obtaining a Covid Test Prior Departure
On Sept 1, 2020, Ghana reopened the borders by air with one caveat; all arriving passengers must have a negative Covid test taken no more than 72 hours before your flight’s departure.
So how does one obtain a test result in less than 72 hours when test results are taking anywhere from 96-120 hours (4-5 days) to receive? I ended up calling the Ghanian embassy in Toronto, five times, and they reassured me that taking the test 4 days in advance would be acceptable. I was told that the powers that be are aware of the backlog in Ontario contributing to a delay in receiving results and they would be understanding.
For those of you planning to use your golden ticket to after October 1 2020, some pharmacies are now offering testing for asymptomatic individuals requiring one for travel. I suggest you book a few weeks in advance to secure your spot.
Only individuals who are travelling on the airplane are allowed inside the terminal. This is a frustrating change when you are accustomed to having friends and family check-in with you, so plan to say your goodbyes at home and arrive with plenty of time to check-in. Although the airport line-ups are shorter, in-take is much longer. I spent 25 minutes with the desk agent and here’s why.
- All incoming passengers are required to fill out a health declaration form located at www.ghs-hdf.org. I struggled with this form as it would not accept the Ghanaian phone number I attempted to input. The woman at the counter mentioned that many individuals had the same experience so she asked me to move onto step 2. Once I arrived in Accra, I, along with many others, was guided to a tablet and asked to fill out this same form since I was not successful before I left. It was here I found out that the phone number needed to be entered as follows 0 12 345 6789. Keep the 0 there and replace 1-9 with your contact’s telephone number.
- In addition to arriving at the airport with your negative Covid test, upon arrival in Accra, you are required to take another one at the cost of $150 USD. At check-in, you must present an email confirmation that you have paid for or will be paying for the test. I filled out the form at myfrontierhealthcare.com and paid for my test online using a credit card. They immediately sent me an email which the check-in agent was required to see. Take a screenshot of the email or print it before travelling because when you arrive in Ghana they need the receipt reference number to continue the process.
Accra Covid Test
I feel like I was scarred both physically and emotionally after taking my first Covid test in Ontario. The device they used felt like plastic and inflamed my sinuses for 48 hours. I had a lot of fear knowing I would have to double down on that negative experience. Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as my first time. I’m not sure if it’s because I was mentally prepared and the thought of passing this final hurdle would mean I made it to freedom or because they used a noticeably smaller sized cotton swab. After waiting 20 minutes they handed me my negative result on a post-it-sized paper and on the way out it was checked by an exit agent. When those doors opened my body was immediately hugged by the familiar warmth of home.
The restrictions in Ghana are similar to the ones in Ontario;
- Everyone wears masks while out;
- Social distancing is encouraged;
- Handwashing stations are located around town and at the entrances to restaurants;
- Employees are intercepting customers to perform temperature checks and provide hand sanitizer.
You can never be too careful so I did take a couple of precautions before leaving including purchasing my flight from an airline that allows no-cost date changes and purchasing health insurance with full coverage. Travelling may not be right for everyone, so I encourage you to take note of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention travel guidelines before making your decision.
Until we are on the other side of this pandemic please take care of yourself and others. Use your golden ticket responsibly.