Minister of Health Dr. Michael Darville announced yesterday that the government will soon remove COVID-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated people traveling to The Bahamas.
“We at the Ministry of Health and Wellness are working to remove many of the remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions, including the mask mandate,” Darville told The Nassau Guardian.
“We thank Bahamians everywhere for their compliance and patience for the inconveniences brought on by these rules.
“Last week, the EOC (emergency operations committee) made recommendations to remove all testing at all ports of entry, but the free testing centers will remain open.”
Darville said the government approved the EOC’s recommendation but has not yet gazetted the policy change.
Currently, vaccinated travelers are not required to present a negative test to enter The Bahamas, but unvaccinated travelers have to present a negative test no older than 72 hours.
The testing requirement is among the last remaining COVID-related restrictions still in effect in The Bahamas.
Asked for an update on the removal of the mask mandate, which has been in place since 2020, Darville said, “We are reviewing the remaining health services rules, including the mask mandate.
“Once again, it will be before the EOC this Wednesday. That is all I can say today.”
He said COVID-19 will “always be with us” and Bahamians must exercise responsibility for their health and the health of others.
His comments came after United States President Joe Biden said the COVID-19 pandemic “is over”.
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it … but the pandemic is over,” Biden said in an interview with “60 Minutes”, which aired on Sunday.
Darville said he saw Biden’s comments.
He said this is where many developed countries are heading along with the World Health Organization.
The Bahamas, however, is “not quite there yet”, Darville added.
“In The Bahamas, we are seeing the number of positive COVID cases declining, which is good news for us,” he said.
“Of major concern, remains our hospitals and we are working diligently to find short and medium-term solutions to address the overflow and staff shortages, particularly the emergency rooms.”