The Bahamian government has reversed its earlier decision to ban U.S. travelers, an action it was willing to take after observing a surge of new COVID-19 cases around the islands, which could be traced back to tourists coming in from the United States.
Now, however, the highly tourism-dependent Caribbean nation is saying that it will welcome arrivals from all countries, including the U.S., provided that they follow proper protocols.
All international visitors are now required to quarantine for fourteen days upon arrival in the Bahamas, staying in a government-run facility (at their own expense), and then undergo a real-time PCR COVID-19 test at the end of their isolation period.
The Nassau Guardian first broke the news of this policy reversal before any official media announcement was made after realizing the most recent revision of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ emergency orders spelled out very different international travel requirements than those he’d announced earlier in the week.
Minnis, who has also served as The Bahamas’ acting health minister since May, had said that he would close all airports and seaports to U.S. travelers, effective July 22, but would continue to welcome tourists from Canada, the U.K. and the E.U., so long as they submitted to its health-screening measures and testing provisions.
“Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy. It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.” Minnis explained at the time. “Our current situation demands decisive action, if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus.”
Economic and social considerations, however, must have forced officials to reconsider this particular course of action. Attorney General Carl Bethel confirmed The Bahamas’ latest international travel policy turnaround in a July 24 press statement, although he didn’t offer a reason for the government’s change of heart, reported the Miami Herald.
“The provisions governing the admission of foreign visitors to The Bahamas were changed in order to create a uniform standard of treatment for all Visitors to The Bahamas during this Pandemic Emergency,” read the statement. “The creation of a uniform framework means that there is no longer any need to create any list of countries from which The Bahamas would accept commercial flights; which list thereby excluded other countries.”
The new orders no longer include COVID-19 PCR pre-travel testing stipulation and have scrapped the previous requirement that travelers complete an online Health Visa form. The blanket, fourteen-day quarantine at government facilities is intended to supersede all previous precautionary measures…