Is the Bahamas ready for the return of tourists, some of whom will arrive from countries with hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases? We’re about to find out.
June 15 will mark the return of boaters, yachters and private aircraft allowed to enter the Bahamas as the tourism sector begins phase 1 of its reopening.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said his ministry will begin with “smaller special interest groups as they provide a more controlled segment”.
Those groups will be required to pre-register electronically so that health officials may determine their risk level.
“During the first phase, commercial airlines will be allowed to bring in Bahamian citizens, legal residents, homeowners qualifying for economic permanent residency, or the immediate family members or significant others of any of these groups”, according to D’Aguilar.
“All returning persons must register at a Bahamas embassy or consulate and obtain a COVID-19 test with a negative result, “ he said.
However, D’Aguilar says visitors will not have to be tested for coronavirus when they come to the Bahamas, which has very few Covid-19 cases when compared to other countries like the U. S. where many tourists come from.
According to D’Aguilar, “Hotels will also be allowed to re-open with the ability to accept guests who are citizens of The Bahamas and the small group of anticipated visitors expected to transit from private craft to boats and who may wish to stay in a hotel for 1 or 2 nights. This will enable staff to begin to return to work to put in place all the measures required to ensure that hotels are ready for opening on July 1, which is the opening of international tourism.”
The July 1 roll out of phase 2 will include international and domestic commercial airlines, hotels and vacation rentals as well as transportation, including taxis and buses.
The global pandemic has resulted in mass layoffs across the country, particularly the tourism sector, which saw mega resorts shut down and send thousands of employees home. Unemployment in the country now exceeds 30 percent.