INSIGHT: Has the government jumped the gun in easing travel restrictions?


THE landscape of COVID-19 is ever-changing, as science continues to uncover more about the virus. Now, it seems, there are indications vaccinated people who do contract the virus have a much slimmer chance of transmitting it to others than earlier projected – another boon for global confidence.

While there are still circumstances where infections occur, mostly found in people over 60, this has supposedly given the competent authority enough confidence to announce the ease of restrictions for vaccinated people.

The announcement came after two consecutive weeks of rising cases in the country, leaving no doubt we are in the feared third wave. This wave is proving to be the most threatening thus far. Looking outward, the US, which has about a third of its adults fully vaccinated and 40 percent of its total population receiving at least one dose of a vaccine, is still not out of the woods.

However, some states are averaging higher case counts than ever – 7,000 new cases a day in Michigan, for example. Provinces across Canada - Ontario in particular - are experiencing the worst of the pandemic as the struggle to vaccinate the population collides with the limited supply of vaccines, and their population’s fatigue with COVID-19 restrictions.

India, Thailand, Brazil, Peru and South Korea are all facing troubling times where less than five percent of their populations are vaccinated and infections are spreading like wildfire.

It is no secret that countries like the US, which secured for themselves the vast majority of vaccines on the market, are the ones setting the gold standard. Even though reports from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed t he UK variant is now the most prevalent in the country, confidence seems to only increase as President Biden just lauded his administration’s success in hitting 200 million vaccinations in their first 100 days.

This is an incredible feat - but for many countries, including The Bahamas, the picture looks a bit different.

COVID-19 has battered our economy, sucking the life out of our tourism industry. I would imagine any positive sign that may increase American travellers’ confidence could be seen as an opportunity for us. But it might not be as black and white as them being ready to travel and us being open to receive them – even with eased restrictions.

While it may increase our attractiveness as a destination, we are still very much in the heat of a battle with COVID-19. As a result, many have found the May 1 date for removing RT-PCR testing as a prerequisite for visitors who have proof of full vaccination as a gamble. Certainly, there are some who view this as a practical step to pump life back into a limp economy.

Certainly, one cannot argue the need for something to take place in that regard.

However, there is also the contingent of Bahamians who remember what felt like a rushed opening on July 1 of last year, which many believe plunged the country into a second wave. And while this has never been acknowledged by the government, those opinions have not gone away.

Simultaneously, we are struggling to get our people vaccinated fast enough due to limiting circumstances such as a lack of supply of the vaccines and manpower. Juxtaposed with cases surging and Princess Margaret Hospital becoming overwhelmed once again due to the number of individuals needing to be admitted, one could conclude that we have some pressing matters to consider before we ease restrictions.

Also, we should consider that despite America’s good standing as far as it relates to vaccinations, the CDC is not budging on its requirements stipulating even those who are fully vaccinated must be tested.

Their website reads: “All air passengers coming to the United States, including US citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before they board a flight to the United States.”

Yet, we are willing to take such a risk so soon. It honestly seems too rushed, and we can only hope this doesn’t lead to more problems in an already challenging situation being faced by Bahamians.

To date, just over 21,000 people have been given their first shot of the vaccine – around five percent of our total population. Although we are scheduled to receive an additional 67,200 vaccines through the COVAX facility next month, at the rate vaccinations are moving, Health Minister Renward Wells’ notion of achieving herd immunity by the summer has already evaporated into thin air.

With no idea where the next set of vaccines are coming from, as small as chances are for infection to spread from fully vaccinated people, the risk may still be too great for us if we have no guarantees about how we are going to vaccinate an additional 100,000 to 150,000 people.

That is an additional 200,000 to 300,000 doses of the vaccine.

This has yet to receive a definitive answer from the government. And if we are being fair about it, they are probably scratching their heads just like many other governments are. But if they are unable to answer such important question, perhaps they can answer another. With all things considered, is May 1 the best time to stop testing vaccinated visitors coming in with more infectious and deadlier variants hopping around the globe? Just last week, Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis warned of the concern about strains identified from the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa and India.

With the US rampant with the UK variant, it’s only a matter of time before it arrives here in strength if we open the doors too soon.


FreeUs242 2 years, 5 months ago

Poison the majority of Bahamians with AstraZeneca 👍💉


JokeyJack 2 years, 5 months ago

Lock everyone down !!!!!!!!!!!!! Use duck tape if you have to !!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL.


JokeyJack 2 years, 5 months ago

Yes, i know it's spelled "duct tape". But i would support duck tape also. Can we make tape from ducks? Do we have any ducks? We got those pigs down in Exuma. Pig tape?


realitycheck242 2 years, 5 months ago

Mean while the USA is donating 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to India because it has not been approved by the FDA in the USA. Ya think they know something our officials dont know about that vaccine. Also Brazil health regulators is rejecting the Russian Sputnik Vaccine because it contains the adenovirus that could reproduce, a "serious" defect, according to Brazilian officals.


John 2 years, 5 months ago

Not only is the US ‘giving away’ the AstraGenica vaccines, but it is shutting down a number of it’s super vaccination sites. People are no longer rushing to take the vaccines. And many who took the first shot are not returning for the second dose. Many believe this pandemic is drawing to an end. But a large number of persons who are testing for Corona have a recent history of travel. And if Minnis is to become so brain dead and allow travelers to bypass testing or fully vaccinated people to not wear masks at this juncture, there will be surges. The pandemic has to end globally for everyone. There is no such thing as an elite group being afforded special, pedigree privileges.


bahamianson 2 years, 5 months ago

it means nothing that the FDA has not approved Astrazenica vaccine, pure power or politics. There are food ingredients that are used in the united states, that cause cancer in rodents in lab tests, that are banned in England and other jurisdictions. Don't think too much into it.


tribanon 2 years, 5 months ago

Phew! Talk about being self-contradictory and overly trusting.


ohdrap4 2 years, 5 months ago

Man this is the time to ignore the status quo. Look at all the blunders they have committed since march 2020.

Proselytizing does not pay bills. Those who are proselytizing on you have not lost their income since march 2020.

A preachy vaccine proselyte relative of mine got covid in a bad way that almost killed her. That is when i decided to go quiet.

Do your best in your life to avoid this thing, and to avoid the vaccination. I do not go to funerals and weddings, unless they are mine. i do not travel, and i only go to work and other essential things.

Remember, the people who survived the black plague are those who walked away.


proudloudandfnm 2 years, 5 months ago

The people who survived the black plague walked away??? Walked away from what? That has to be the most ignorant statement ever. Walked away? Lol. The most fatal pandemic in recorded history bur, nobody walked away... Damn...


carltonr61 2 years, 5 months ago

Will the new post competent Authority laws being worked on by parliament give the police Force super nasty draconian powers to sidestep our Constitutional rights as citizens, or the new normal preached about from 2019 here to stay? Imagine our Gestappo checking our cell phones for mark of the beast vaccination freedom certificate or App. We have seen how ruthless they can be so I guess a permanent police power over us is coming. The dictator will never give up control over the masses that he has herd power which he brandished rushlessly along with his SS hench women.


dwanderer 2 years, 5 months ago

July 1st of last year was too soon to re-open and May 1st, 2021 is too soon to fully ease travel restrictions! The Bahamas is trying to be amongst the first set of countries to require no tests for fully vaccinated individuals so as to boost tourism. Why can't we take the time to gradually ease measures whilst we await the CDC & WHO's findings on whether fully vaccinated persons can still transmit Covid? In hindsight, just like last year, we may find that we acted too soon. 'Act in haste, repent in leisure'.


Twocent 2 years, 5 months ago

Ironic that the very “science” Dahl-Regis cites as justifying the vaccination program as
being fully protective is the same source she chooses to ignore. CDC say test!!! Why would they say that unless their science suggests it? But then, aren’t they the source that also update their opinions based on their changing science? Given that to be true can we expect them to change their opinion on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine too? Doublethink!


Sign in to comment