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U-Turn On Tests For Hotel Stays

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE government reversed its position prohibiting Bahamians from staying at hotels during lockdown weekends unless they produce a negative COVID-19 test result less than 24-hours after the move was announced.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said though officials feared people would go to the hotels and disregard health protocols, hotel bosses have assured them social distancing rules will be enforced.

“The hotels were reminded of the consequence and the penalties if they don’t follow the law,” he said.

The Ministry of Tourism said in a statement on Wednesday that hotels or resorts are not allowed to accept guests who don’t have a negative COVID-19 test result.

Some local hotels have been targeting residents during the COVID-19 crisis. One hotel had over 100 people booked for this upcoming weekend, about 50 percent of its capacity, Mr D’Aguilar said.

However, the Freetown MP said concern about cancellations is not what prompted the government’s reversal.

“The initial reasoning or requirement that local residents wishing to go into local hotels take a COVID-19 test was because hotels were being used as possible quarantine sites for foreign visitors so if you’re a foreign visitor and you had the 14-day mandatory quarantine, you’re forced to quarantine in a hotel,” he said. “If you were to allow residents into the hotels you would have this very odd scenario where you have people who were tested before they came to the country mingling with guests who didn’t, who had no tests at all. We were trying to get it to work. We figured that in our quest to remain fair that a local person would also have to get a negative PCR test.

“With the approaching storm and the general lack of foreign visitors in the country, we decided not to implement that policy until after further consideration but we would like to implement the social distancing rules. We are wary of a situation where people go piling into a hotel and not practising the health protocols and pictures and videos start emerging of them having a good time at the hotel but we have gotten assurances that all protocols will be followed.”

Asked if the government will revisit the decision if the number of visitors to the country ticks up, Mr D’Aguilar said officials are “playing it by ear.”

Comments

tell_it_like_it_is 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This government mix up like conch salad. Nope, I take that back... cause that's giving conch salad a bad rap...
They waayyy more mixed up than that!!!! SMH

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TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

In the meantime what's this major shakeup really all about?
Seems more than delays paying staff members going on up at ZNS. Mr. Minnis's, operating out the state Texas republican advisors, feel his message is not being well-served by the current Board Members and management at the red party's chief propagandists broadcaster?
Also, watch for a major shift of names operating out the OPM? Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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Porcupine 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The more things change, the more they stay the same. What's new?

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tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Disagree. We have never ever had a government this incompetent - yes, perhaps more corrupt - but never this incompetent.

Minnis is the epitome of a dumb, arrogant, nasty, stubborn, bullying and vindictive lunatic. And we are all paying a very dear price for having enabled him to become PM of our country. There will be no Bahamas if he remains PM for much longer. As for D'Aguilar, well, let's just say his own father (Vince) was right about him being born with little common sense. D'Aguilar should have just stuck to running the simple laundromat business that Vince established and left for him to run.

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TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Told there's the rushed copying of communications between the OPM, and ministry, by certain feelin' are about be's shoved aside comrades, including an on-air personality, up at ZNS.... they're calling it just in case protection?

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