Change on inter-island tests

AN amended Emergency Powers Order has removed the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test prior to inter-island travel except when traveling from and between Grand Bahama and New Providence.

The order, released on Friday, states that anyone who wishes to travel domestically must obtain a travel visa which has to be presented to the carrier agent at the point of embarkation. Upon arrival at another island, a traveler must submit to mandatory quarantine at a government identified facility or another appropriate place as determined by the Ministry of Health for a period of 14 days or for the duration of their stay.

The order also states that anyone travelling from New Providence and Grand Bahama — the islands with the largest number of COVID-19 cases — must obtain a negative RT PCR COVID-19 test before applying for a travel visa. The result of the COVID-19 test must be “valid for a period of five days from the date which the test was taken,” the order says.

This also applies to travelers between the two islands. Children ten-years-old or younger are exempt from the testing requirement, but will also be required to quarantine. The quarantine period is not required for anyone traveling among islands in the first schedule of the emergency orders, which include Chub Cay, Harbour Island, Long Cay, Long Island, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador, and Spanish Wells.

Operators or any aircraft or mail boat carrying passengers inter-island must deny anyone not wearing a mask or who does not have a travel visa. An operator who permits a person to travel contrary to the protocols in the order can face a fine of $500 per passenger.

There are some exceptions to the protocols.

A person traveling domestically for an emergency, with written confirmation from a health officer or the police force and employees of an operator or an aircraft or vessel transporting freight and passengers, will be exempted from obtaining a health visa or quarantine upon arrival.

The order states that the competent authority reserves the right to exempt in writing any person travelling domestically from the requirement to undergo quarantine where “exceptional circumstances exist”.

The amended order states public officers who have written confirmation that they are travelling for “immediate government business” will also be exempted from the quarantine requirement.

However, a COVID-19 negative test is still required for a public officer in these circumstances.

The amended order also gives the minister of education the authority to grant approval to a school to engage in face-to-face instruction provided the Ministry of Health has determined “it is safe to do so”.


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