The Lynden Pindling International Airport. (File photo)
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
DOMESTIC travel will resume next Monday without the need for a COVID-19 travel card, the Office of the Prime Minister announced yesterday.
The OPM said in a statement: “Commercial airlines are expected to start taking reservations on Tuesday, 2 June, for inter-island flights.
“Passengers travelling from New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini by aircraft, mailboat or passenger ferry will be required to complete a standardised travel form and a standardised health form at the time of check-in. These short forms will be used to collect contact information and a COVID-19 risk assessment by health officials.
“The system announced today will replace the application and assessment process that was initially put in place to accommodate inter-island travel, effective immediately. Those who have already applied will receive travel authorisation from the Ministry of Health by email prior to June 8.”
After two months of a COVID-19 lockdown, the pace of reopening the country has quickened in recent weeks, with this news of domestic travel resumption following the recent move to Phase Three of the government’s reopening plan. Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has identified July 1 as the target date for resuming international commercial flights to this country.
In fact, The Bahamas was recently listed among 44 other top holiday destinations that airlines hope abandon a 14-day quarantine rule. The 45-nation list was agreed by British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic and sent to ministers in the British government.
“As part of the ongoing and phased reopening of the country, domestic borders will be opened for regular domestic commercial flights and for domestic pleasure craft and yachts,” the OPM said.
“Individuals travelling aboard pleasure craft and yachts leaving from a marina in New Providence, Grand Bahama or Bimini should submit travel and health forms before departing. If leaving from a private dock, individuals will be required to fill out and submit forms at the point of entry. The Ministries of Health and Tourism are developing a digital solution to help to further streamline this process in the weeks ahead.
“Airlines are working to ensure various protocols including enhanced cleaning procedures for aircraft, ensuring that all staff utilise masks/facial coverings. Operational procedures to ensure physical distancing on board the aircraft and during the boarding process will be implemented.
“The Airport Authority and Port Authority have developed various protocols for reopening of domestic travel and will continue to make adjustments as necessary to improve systems. Travellers should note that due to physical distancing protocols, the check-in process may take longer than usual. Please arrive early to check-in.”
In mid-May, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said domestic travel would be facilitated by a COVID-19 travel card.
That reversed policy required individuals to register with the Ministry of Health and submit to an evaluation by a Ministry of Health authorised physician in the public or private sector to determine the presence of any symptoms consistent with COVID-19.