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Tourists’ five-day test to be scrapped

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE requirement for an antigen test five days after arriving in The Bahamas is about to end.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper, the Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investments, said this will end immediately after the new rules are gazetted.

 Currently, people who enter the country and stay longer than four nights and five days are required to take a second antigen test.

 “For the avoidance of doubt,” Mr Cooper said, “you still require a test to enter The Bahamas. What we are going to offer to our guests is a free rapid test for their outgoing travel. So, as you now know, persons require a rapid test to enter the US for example. Rather than having the post-travel five day test, we will offer that as a part of the travel health visa programme.”

 Mr Cooper said the government is not concerned now that removing the day five test will allow COVID-19 cases to go undetected, noting cases and hospitalisations around the world are declining.

 “We have to strike a balance consistently between being competitive, between facilitating visitors and guests to our shores as well as protecting the health and safety of the Bahamian people. We’ve done well so far. Every time there’s a change we’ve pivoted well. When Omicron came we changed it from a five-day test to a two-day test and we hope to be at the end of the pandemic soon, but we’re not there yet and the reality is we want to keep our infrastructure in place in the event there is a fourth wave we’re able to respond very quickly so we’re making the adjustments as we go along.”

 Mr Cooper said some tourism stakeholders are lobbying the government to further relax restrictions, including the mask mandate.

“…Suffice it to say we’re looking at (the recommendations) and every week, if we deem it appropriate, we will make adjustments but we want to make sure we are competitive, we strike the right balance between driving our industry and the health and safety of the Bahamian people.

 “There is a recommendation to remove the mask requirement, for example. And we see in some jurisdictions that this is the direction that some counties are going in. Some counties have declared that the pandemic is over and we want to ensure that we get it right as best as possible and, therefore, we are going to be very deliberate in our approach.

 “Suffice to say, many of the people who say eliminate the requirement to wear masks also want us to have low levels of CDC rating and sometimes you can’t have both. There are some who would like to see no protocols whatsoever. There’s some who say eliminate the need for tests to come into the country, but it’s the same people who say we need a low CDC rating to bolster our industry. It is our job as policy makers to ensure that we strike the right balance and this is what we will continue to do.”

Comments

immigrant 2 years, 1 month ago

1st step...now ditch these disgusting masks.

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tribanon 2 years, 1 month ago

If only we could get rid of this most corrupt bunch of politicians as fast as they are now getting rid of all the Wuhan Virus mandates.

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whogothere 2 years, 1 month ago

COVID has been a complete artefact of testing availability and protocol...

IT IS TIME TO SCRAP EVERYTHING TO DO WITH COVID!

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/da...">https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/da...

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ohdrap4 2 years, 1 month ago

not under Dr. Nekiah forbes watch.

There are twenty-odd covid patients clogging up health care so you all have to wear masks untile there are no covid positive cases for 6 months.

DON'T TEST. DON'T ASK. DON'T TELL.

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Bonefishpete 2 years, 1 month ago

So when will the travel health visa programme and it associated fees end?

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Alan1 2 years, 1 month ago

Until we get rid of the Health Visa and the tests to enter our country we will never see a return to pre-Covid travel numbers. Potential visitors do not have the time or the will to go through all the hassles to come here when they can go most other places with far fewer requirements. The Government and those associated with the Health Visa are both making money from the tourists who are willing to come here. But it has been a great deterrent for many to book for trips here. Many simply cannot get a rapid antigen test anywhere near where they live, or if available, cannot get here within the required three day limit because it takes too long to receive the test result. The tourism industry here is the big losers in all this process .Yet the roadblocks continue.

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regrolli 2 years, 1 month ago

Scrap all travel restrictions. At this stage the significant majority are being compromised for the very few.

Enough is enough. Time to move on.

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