Boaters, yachters and private pilots will be allowed to travel to The Bahamas as of June 15, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar announced on Tuesday.
Additionally, commercial airlines will be allowed to bring in Bahamians, permanent residents and home owners, along with their family members. The minister said all returning residents will be required to test negative for COVID-19.
This will mark the beginning of the phased reopening of the tourism sector, D’Aguilar said during a virtual tourism re-entry press conference.
He said hotel workers will be allowed to return to work to implement safety measures designed to ensure that hotels are ready for opening.
Phase two of the plan, which will begin on July 1, calls for the full resumption of commercial airlines, both international and domestic; the reopening of hotels and vacation rentals, including Airbnb and Home Away; as well as the resumption of public transportation ranging from taxis, jitneys and buses.
D’Aguilar said the timing of the other phases will be announced later.
The reopening plan was developed by the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee.
Nassau Airport Development Company President and CEO Vernice Walkine said NAD has invested in thermal scanners, which will allow LPIA staff scan passengers for elevated temperatures.
It is unclear whether Family Island airports will get the same technology.
However, she said all airports will implement safety protocols to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19. Some measures include enhanced sanitization, introducing social distancing markers, limiting close seating in hold rooms, installation of protective plexiglass as appropriate, among others. Travelers and airport staff will also be required to wear face masks.
The committee also developed a plan to guide hotels and other tourist operations. Among other measures, guests will be encouraged to wear masks while staff will be required to wear masks. Additionally, it is proposed that staff members are screened daily. Cleaning standards will be elevated, high touch areas will be sanitized frequently and physical distancing signs will be mounted.
Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu said the demand for travel to The Bahamas is increasing.
She said the Ministry of Tourism will market the destination heavily.