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Confusion over Eleuthera emergency orders

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

MANY residents left Eleuthera yesterday without having to show proof that they had a negative COVID-19 PCR test result despite last week’s change to the COVID-19 Emergency Order making this a requirement for travel.

The policy took effect on Thursday and required anyone travelling from Harbour Island and Eleuthera to another part of The Bahamas to take a RT-PCR test to obtain a travel visa.

The sudden policy changes prompted outrage and caused some to cancel trips. New Providence residents are required to have a negative PCR test to travel domestically, and many were worried about having to get tested again to return to the island from Eleuthera.

Dianna Malone told The Tribune last week she was concerned she would not be able to return home as planned. She was worried about where she would get tested in Eleuthera.

Yesterday, however, she said she obtained a travel visa without uploading a new PCR test result.

“After all the stress of trying to get our tests done on Thursday to be able to get our visas back on time to return on Monday, when applying for the health visa on Sunday afternoon the visa was automatically approved and the website never asked me to upload our results,” she said. “I don’t understand why it would be a requirement effective April 1, but the website not be updated to request it.”

Ms Malone said the boat on which she travelled did not request the test result and only looked for visas.

Another resident, Kayla Dorsett, said she obtained a second test result but did not need it to get on Bahamasair’s flight from Eleuthera yesterday. The flight had about 66 passengers.

“We ended up spending $250 overall because the Prime Minister implemented the new rule at the last hour,” she said. “But there was a plot twist. They weren’t asking passengers for the test this week because they said the change was no fault to the passengers. So money was wasted on my part. They only wanted to see the travel visa.”

Bahamasair chairman Tommy Turnquest said yesterday after receiving complaints from customers, he reached out to the management of the airline and assured them people could depart Eleuthera with just a valid travel visa.

“The PCR is good for five days,” he said. “So, if you left on Friday, you would’ve needed a PCR test to get a travel visa and when you uploaded your travel visa you would’ve uploaded your test result as well. Invariably the travel visa was paid for and as long as you had a valid travel visa you could get back. The travel visa is your ticket to get on the plane.”

Although Mr Turnquest noted that the “vast majority of people went on Friday or Thursday and came back yesterday,” many who returned yesterday likely had original tests that were more than five days old.

“You couldn’t return from the US with a local test, but local is local,” he said.

For his part, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said there was no reduction in travel requirements for people who travelled for the Easter holiday.

“The Emergency Order says what the Emergency Order says,” he said yesterday. “The technology takes a little while to catch up with the law sometimes, but I presume the airlines and companies are checking to see if there is compliance.

“When Emergency Orders get dropped, it takes a while to catch up with the law. I’ve asked the programmers to design it in such a way where it’s pretty easy to turn on and off the requirements for the islands because if you have to hard code whenever there’s a change, that leads to a delay. We need it to respond more nimbly to changes.”

Comments

truetruebahamian 1 year, 4 months ago

Minnis screwed up. And - is it a fact that his son is administering the rtPCR tests in Eleuthera? That would be a questionable convenience contra to any reasonable dealings - seeing that the costs of these are twice or more the price in New Providence, The work that needs to be done on peoples' properties that require their owners to be back and forth travellers must be done before rainy season. Halting that because of inability to pay these horrendous fees - costs should be covered by Minnis himself - not the treasury..

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happyfly 1 year, 4 months ago

It's simple. They got Covid in Nassau so you have to get a PCR test to go from Nassau to Eleuthera. But now they got some Covid in Eleuthera so you have to get a PCR test to go from Eleuthera to Nassau. So the emergency orders is making the people with Covid stay home but letting the people that don't have Covid go see their family on the island where they are making the people with covid stay home. So the people without covid from over there are going to be on the island with covid over here and the people with covid are going to be on the island with the people without covid over there. Wouldn't it be better if they let the people with covid go to the island with the people that already had covid and make the people without a covid stay on the island where they don't have covid.......oh....I forgot....they already have covid over here and over there....but wait......if they don't let that one go with covid over there......then they still got that one with covid over here ....... and then again....the covid over here came from American spring breakers who already had a covid test before they came here from over there......but now they are positive they cant go back over there.......and nobody wants them to stay here ????

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carltonr61 1 year, 4 months ago

The Covid arm of The Bahamas Christian Council needs to answer to this robbery of poor Bahamians under guize of Mins New And Emerging Technologies as part of their Caesar power to offer Holy Vaccine along with and equal to Holy Bible and Holy Prayer.

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DDK 1 year, 4 months ago

Do persons have to take a "PCR" test to travel from, say, Miami to Ft. Lauderdale? The travel/ test thing with its ludicrous regulations and costs makes no sense and is a form of vile extortion levied on The People.

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tribanon 1 year, 4 months ago

It's now all about money. Just follow the money.

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Clamshell 1 year, 4 months ago

You are correct ... enforcing different standards to/from different locales makes no sense whatsoever. A virus does not know or care whether you’re a Bahamian, an American, a Canadian, etc. This is just one more example of dumb, dumber and dumbest.

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tribanon 1 year, 4 months ago

Tommy 'T' - dumb; D'aguilar - dumber; Minnis - dumbest.

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carltonr61 1 year, 4 months ago

This gov is hell bent on permanently moniterizing Covid. Even if the gov changes, unless it is the DNA Covid 19 to Covid 1000 head tax will remain a milking sore. There is no hint of ending from gov only further restrictions and mandated costs.

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