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No Test - You’Re Not Coming In: Rising Infections In U.S. Force Retention Of Test For Visitors After July 1

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

TRAVELLERS will need a COVID-19 negative test result to enter the country when international commercial flights resume on July 1, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar announced yesterday.

The Minnis administration had intended to allow visitors into the country after July 1 without proof of testing but rising infection rates in the U.S. has forced a u-turn.

Mr D’Aguilar said the country has lost almost one billion dollars in tourism revenue and close to 40,000 visitors because of the COVID-19 crisis.

While international flights will resume soon, he said it is unclear when cruise ships will return. Cruise ship companies are negotiating their resumption of transport with the US Centres for Disease Control, he said, with late August to early December identified as the range of time within which they are expected to return.

Mr D'Aguilar said: “The Nassau Cruise Port is projecting cruise arrivals into Nassau to decline by over 60 percent in 2020 compared to the record numbers in 2019. But they also project that by 2022 we should be back to pre-COVID-19 numbers and then, moving forward, add an additional one million cruise arrivals into Nassau every five years.”

As for requiring a COVID-19 negative test for entry to the country, Mr D’Aguilar said increasing COVID-19 cases in the United States has put “the Bahamas in an extremely difficult position".

“On the one hand,” he said, “we need foreign visitors to return to our country to restart our economy. Foreign visitors from the United States, especially from nearby Florida, Georgia and Texas and the northeast states of New York and New Jersey and Connecticut and Massachusetts, form the bulk of our annual visitors. We need them to come to restart our tourism sector and put our people back to work. On the other hand, however, there are the legitimate health concerns that these very people that we need to restart our virtual tourism sector and put our people back to work, could end up causing a spike in COVID-19 cases here in the Bahamas and undoing the excellent results that the Ministry of Health has achieved in keeping our death rate low.

“Being the accountant that I am, I have looked at the number of COVID-19 fatalities in the aforementioned states and have calculated that were all 380,000 of us Bahamians located in Florida, we would have suffered 55 fatalities and not the 11 we have; were we all in Georgia, we would have suffered 87 fatalities and not the 11 we have; and were all 380,000 of us Bahamians located in New York, we would have suffered 466 fatalities, and not the 11 we have.

"As a country, we have fared far better than all of the states in the United States in terms of keeping our people safe and alive and I salute the prime minister, the former minister of health and all of the nation’s health care workers for a job well done. So, what are we to do now? As mentioned, we have opened the country to foreign visitors wishing to come here by private plane or pleasure craft or yacht. These persons will require a molecular swab PCR COVID-19 test with a negative result to enter the country.

"Given the spike in the number of positive COVID-19 tests in the United States and the uncertainty surrounding just how many cases will require hospitalisation, the government of the Bahamas has decided to maintain the current status quo until further notice. When we made our initial decision, evidence supported the opening of the tourism sector without the test. We had the full support of the tourism sector for this decision. But things have changed. The situation became unclear and ever changing so a prudent government must reassess and readjust all decisions related to this CVOID-19 virus as the situation evolves on the ground. And that is what we are doing here today.”

Mr D’Aguilar said officials will prioritise domestic tourism growth and plan to unveil a comprehensive promotional campaign encouraging Bahamians and residents to vacation domestically. On the international travel front, he said officials will prioritise markets with short haul flights, such as Florida, Atlanta and New York. He said officials will also promote secluded Family Island and beach vacations.

“Less-populated destinations such as the Family Islands may see an increase in tourism as the appeal of space and seclusion become more important factors in vacation planning,” he said.

The government allowed domestic travel to resume on June 8. On Monday, the borders were opened to boaters, yachters and private aviation. People in this category, as well as returning residents from overseas, were required to present a negative COVID-19 test to be cleared for travel.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 2 weeks, 1 day ago

US tests are inaccurate, best approach is to just keep Americans out for now...

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immigrant 2 weeks, 1 day ago

What kind of test and how many days ahead of travel. Come on Bahamas government...if you’re going to make requirements, be clear! DO BETTER!

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thps 2 weeks, 1 day ago

1st We can't talk cruises if this rule is in place.

2nd My guess is this is going to be temporary.

3rd If the issue is the US, does this mean, flights from the UK, Cayman, Haiti, Canada, and other places do not need a test?

4th The Minister has no idea how many deaths we would have had. You cant take a place like The Bahamas with its own industries, population density, etc, and then apply it to x US state.

A simple example: Many cases in the US are linked to farms, factories, etc. These are businesses that stayed open during the entire pandemic in the US. Making, shipping, and packaging farming and sending stuff to us.

So imagine if the US shuttered those places and decided it wasn't worth the risk and sent nothing out to places like The Bahamas. Imagine if the US prevented interstate travel. Most things are trucked around, a trucker stops at hotels and rest stops before goods arrive here.

Point being, the US and other countries keeping certain industries open allowed us to keep other things closed.

"As a country, we have fared far better than all of the states in the United States in terms of keeping our people safe and alive"

5th I don't know how he claims all states Alaska = 12 deaths pf 731,545 population Montana 18 deaths of 1,060,000 populaton

Let's take an archipelago Hawaii.

Hawaii 17 deaths of 1.4m population Bahamas 11 deaths of 380,000 population

So the Bahamas has more deaths per 100,000 than those states.

Now if he wants to look at total cases too in the above states

Hawaii has 744 total cases but has performed 74,000+ tests. We have 104 total cases but have performed 2,000 tests.

So i don't know where he gets all states from.

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lovingbahamas 2 weeks, 1 day ago

He didn’t say he was a good accountant. You are spot on with these numbers. Like a lot of politicians he manipulated these numbers to fit his theory. He forgot to mention that the Bahamas death rate is almost 10% from Covid-one of the highest in the world! Just wait for hurricane season to see what happens. Oh, wait a minute, they still have supplies in Nassau that were donated for Abaco recovery- maybe they can use those.

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Castaway 2 weeks, 1 day ago

I agree that if we are going to allow visitors into our country, then everyone needs to have a negative Covid -19 test. They also need to have their temperatures taken upon arrival and everyone needs to be required to wear a mask. People in the United States are refusing to wear mask. People in many Asian countries are required to wear mask. Look at the numbers. MASK HELP STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19. The government must require everyone to WEAR MASK. This is not rocket science.

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joeblow 2 weeks, 1 day ago

The actions and decisions of the WHO has been questionable in their efforts to protect China and much of their advice should be take with caution. Of the over 8 million cases of COVID 19 there have been zero cases where a person has gotten it twice! This should mean that the best method to use is probably high quality rapid antibody test kits. This would at least let you know who was already exposed to the infection since it is unlikely they will get reinfected in the short term. It is this group of persons who should be allowed to return to work and it is this group of tourists that should be allowed into the country, while still wearing masks.

The government cannot be allowed to continue to decimate the economy with no scientific basis!

https://www.epmmagazine.com/news/uk-a...">https://www.epmmagazine.com/news/uk-a...

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happyfly 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Herd immunity...herd immunity......Look at New Zeland. They were all patting each other on the back last week for having no new cases and now they are are all losing their minds because as soon as they opened their borders the infections started all over again. Hopefully, we won't all die a long slow miserable death by bankrupt, crime-ridden starvation before the decision makers here get t through their thick skulls that the only way forward is through herd immunity.

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joeblow 2 weeks, 1 day ago

... herd immunity can only be acquired through exposure to the virus, but it comes with a risk of death to the vulnerable. Antibody testing would confirm just how much exposure we have had and it makes it easier to predict the impact of a second wave of the virus. That is why we need it!

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JokeyJack 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Absolutely correct. It is sad, but true. We also seem to have lost ALL interest in that lab in China. Trump said he was going to investigate it. I wonder if the investigators have GPS ?

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tribanon 2 weeks, 1 day ago

This weasel (D'Aguilar) would have us believe the Bahamas had only 11 'official' deaths from Covid-19, presumably counting those deaths in much the same way the 'official' deaths from Hurricane Dorian were counted. He would also have us believe the decision to require a negative Covid-19 test result for all persons travelling to the Bahamas after June 30 was made because the FNM government is concerned about the Communist China virus being brought to our shores by visitors (tourists) from abroad. But that's all a bunch of political self-serving crapola. This decision of feigned concerned was only made by Minnis and D'Aguilar after they discovered from their talks with officials of the commercial airline and cruise ship companies that leisure travellers have no intention of coming to the Bahamas anytime soon. And this is because of the significant downturn in the US economy (worse than the great recession that began in 2008/9) combined with the natural fear most North Americans now have of flying or cruising in tightly confined spaces with many other passengers. The CEO of Delta put it bluntly in an interview with Bloomberg today when he said it would be the middle of next year at the earliest that his airline might have 50%+ load factors on average, if ever again! Anyone in the Bahamas looking to make a living off of tourism anytime soon had better do a retake and start exploring other ways of making a living. For D'Aguilar to suggest that you can look to mostly unemployed and broke domestic (local) tourists to make a living is quite honestly a fallacy of the kind only a most deceitful politician like him would throw your way.

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John 2 weeks, 1 day ago

After Dorian hit Abaco in September last year, people were saying a strange sickness was going on on parts of that island and also Grand Bahama. A kind of flu that was so painful it made its victims pray for death and also they had a feeling of drowning. The common talks were "they put something in that hurricane." We the FIVE pilots who fly those aircraft into the eyes of hurricanes have tested positive for Corona. Coincidence or conspiracy?

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thps 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Not sure, but from the start John you were absolutely spot on in your analysis in February that tourism would be hammered from Coivd-19 when our leaders were talking about 85% occupancy next year. Maybe you should be advising the govt.

So you may be on to something here again.

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JokeyJack 2 weeks, 1 day ago

The hurricane and this virus are both "conspiracies" - and this "coincidence" of events, I suppose, would be a double conspiracy. People ought to have become aware by now that the word "conspiracy" is very very very useful to those who are up to no good. It turns away the majority of public attention in just one utterance. Amazing that.

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 1 day ago

What comes mind when trying to follow the virus testing policies of comrades Mr. Minnis, Dioniso James, Marvin, Carl Wilshire, and KP, is the popoular carnival game Whac-A-Mole, where you take the mallet to the mole that keeps popping up no matter how many times one tries to get rid of the sucker.
This is getting be a steady stream crazy stuff by the five substantive central characters responsible for the design and making of red coats carnival, nonsensical policies. Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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Porcupine 2 weeks, 1 day ago

They have a 15 minute turm around Covid test available. We should test every person who comes into The Bahamas, at the airport, or the Port of Entry they use. Don't talk about cost. The Bahamas should buy these tests and than charge the visitors for them. Just like any other of the many fees, taxes, and levies we charge. Waive some other fee if you wish. But, everyone should be tested here. This negative test 3 days prior or whatever time frame makes no sense. What if they are infected in the Miami airport? Why do we allow our ministers to think like 5 year olds, and get away with it?

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rodentos 2 weeks, 1 day ago

yeah completely stupid. They were accepting 10 days old tests for people who were repatriated on Airbahamas flights. Pure actionism, no sense, no plan, no direction.... "just lets do somethig"

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JokeyJack 2 weeks, 1 day ago

And instead of "fees", "taxes", or "levies" we could even come up with a new word in order to disguise it - LOL.

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lovingbahamas 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Instant tests are the only answer. I don’t think a family of 4 is going to want to shell out $100 each for the test on top of the 50% or so taxes and fees on their room. But, if the gov pays the $100 they will more than make up for it in tourist income, less handouts, and more good will.

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SP 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Blah, blah, blah, blah blah. Testing before allowing people to travel here should never have been a question in the first place!

In addition to all this COVID-19 travel talk, the Bahamas needs to urgently figure out why our destination and people are off the charts when it comes to friendliness with tourists!

https://www.foxnews.com/travel/friend...">https://www.foxnews.com/travel/friend...

One common thread with the "Friendliest Caribbean islands" article is the people are very proud of their country. How could Bahamians be proud of their country when successive governments have facilitated "other nationals" in dominating entire sectors of the economy?

We have been lead on a path to self-destruction for so long that neither political party has the consciousness of mind and the wherewithal to even begin recognizing the danger!

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 1 day ago

The colony's PopoulacesOrdinary at large POAL needs to be introduced to the socialists' mindset of Comrade Karl Marx. Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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joeblow 2 weeks, 1 day ago

... I nodded four times!! What does that mean?

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Ma Comrade Joe, four nods, inducts you into the PopoulacesDemocraticSocial Movement PDSM.

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joeblow 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Thanks, because I wasn't sure if that was four yesses or two no's!

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WETHEPEOPLE 2 weeks, 1 day ago

I think we all know that we cant afford to inconvenience everý visitor that wants to come here. There are other options to the Bahamas and guests may simply go there. Lets keep in mind unemployment is high in the U.S right now. The average American saves almost a year to go on vacation once within that year, and given the economic climate in the U.S. most people are trying to stretch their dollar, not spend it on a covid test from a.covid testing center the Bahamas Govt deems legit. Lets be real, we need their money, we gone have to take the risks, not vice versa

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rodentos 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Covid is here to stay. For years I tell you. What are you going to do?

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Honestman 2 weeks, 1 day ago

The Government is "caught between a rock and a hard place." If we allow tourists from Florida and other COVID infected states into the Bahamas without robust health checks then any economic gain could be short lived. How many American tourists will visit New Providence if we find our infection rate has spiraled out of control and there are no hospital beds available for anyone?

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JokeyJack 2 weeks, 1 day ago

As long as Trump does not plan to hold a rally here, the virus will not make an advanced appearance. Very smart virus it is. Already moved to Tulsa, and making an advanced appearance in Jacksonville ahead of the convention. Genetic engineering has come a long way since the 80s.

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killemwitdakno 4 hours, 58 minutes ago

No Test - You’Re Not Coming In. Now teach that in school about sex.

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