With roughly ten days until The Bahamas opens its borders completely to international travel, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) announced yesterday that major air carriers are poised to resume their regular flights as the country enters into phase two of the reopening of the tourism sector.
The global communications division of the MOTA noted that Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines as well as Air Canada will resume flights during the first week of the borders reopening.
“As part of phase two, hotels and vacation rentals, including Airbnb and HomeAway, will open to guests. Domestic and international airlines are permitted to resume service and many are beginning to announce plans for their return to The Bahamas: Delta Air Lines will be resuming its twice daily Atlanta to Nassau service on July 2; United Airlines announced its daily
Houston to Nassau service will resume on July 6 and its Saturday-only Denver to Nassau service will resume July 11,” the MOTA revealed in a press release yesterday.
American Airlines will resume flights to Nassau and Exuma on July 7; Air Canada is scheduled to resume flights from Toronto to Nassau on July 3, 2020. Additional airlift resumptions are expected to be announced in the coming weeks,” the MOTA further noted.
Last week, during his contribution to debate on the 2020/2021 budget, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar announced the government’s decision to reverse its initial policy of not requiring foreign visitors to provide a negative COVID-19 test before arriving in the country.
Due to the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the government is taking an abundance of caution for the health and safety of both travelers and residents by now requiring all incoming visitors to present a COVID-19 RT-PCR negative (swab) test upon arrival.
“Results must be no more than 10 days old. Select individuals will be exempt from testing, which includes children under the age of two, private pilots who do not deplane and Bahamian citizens, residents and homeowners returning from English speaking CARICOM countries. All travelers will be required to complete an electronic health visa,” the MOTA stated.
“No quarantine will be required upon arrival, however, travelers who show symptoms of COVID-19 may be transferred to an area away from other passengers for further testing and evaluation.”
The ministry again reiterated that healthcare personnel will conduct temperature screenings at all airports and seaports for all incoming visitors; and that travelers will be required to wear a face mask in any situation where it is necessary to enforce physical distancing guidelines, such as when entering and transiting air and sea terminals, while navigating security and customs screenings, and at baggage claim.
“This July 1 tourism re-entry builds on and supports existing government rules and regulations, which already allows for the resumption of travel for international boaters, yachters and those traveling on private aviation as well as inter-island domestic travel for Bahamian citizens and residents,” the release stated.
“Once on island, travellers should expect to follow The Bahamas’ ‘Healthy Traveler Campaign’ that encourages both visitors and residents to continue practicing social distancing measures, regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizers and pack appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) such as face masks, just as they would their swimsuits and sunscreen.”
The United States, which has seen more than two million COVID-19 cases, is The Bahamas’ primary tourism market with more than 1.2 million stopover visitors coming to Bahamian shores last year. Twenty-two states have reported increases in new coronavirus cases in the last two weeks.