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New emergency orders allow int’l commercial flights from all countries

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ latest emergency orders on international travel for visitors now makes it possible for travelers from all countries to enter the country, including commercial air travelers from the United States, subjecting all visitors to mandatory 14-day government quarantine.

The new orders were issued just days after Minnis’ announcement on Sunday that commercial air and sea travel to The Bahamas would be restricted for all countries except Canada, the United Kingdom and countries within the European Union.

The restrictions he foreshadowed were couched as necessary to address the country’s increase in COVID-19 cases.

Minnis also announced that Bahamians and legal residents returning from overseas by air or sea must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result no more than 10 days old and a valid health visa.

He advised that those without a negative PCR result would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days via the Hubbcat monitoring application, and submit to a COVID-19 test at their expense, at the end of the quarantine period.

Clause 26 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19 Pandemic)(No. 2) Order issued Wednesday, states that visitors arriving on “an international commercial air travel” must, at their own expense, submit to quarantine at a government facility for 14 days and undergo an RT-PCR COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test at the end of the 14-day period, also at the visitor’s expense.

Clause 26(2) empowers the competent authority to exempt diplomatic personnel and other visitors from mandatory quarantine.

And clause 25 states that Bahamians and legal residents will be mandatorily quarantined at a government facility at their own expense upon arrival, and must submit to a COVID-19 test at the end of the quarantine period, also at their expense.

These individuals can opt for a COVID-19 test before the 14-day period and if negative, would be permitted to go into monitored self-quarantine.

The  new emergency orders contain no stipulations on the entry policy for passengers on pleasure crafts or private or chartered aircraft.

Additionally, the new orders no longer call for COVID-19 PCR testing prior to arrival for visitors, Bahamians or legal residents, which is a requirement for the health visa that is also no longer mandated by law.

The order was signed by the prime minister on July 22.

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