While expressing relief, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar revealed that the United States has indicated that it will not move forward with its plans to implement federal quarantine requirements for individuals traveling to the United States.
“…We were, on the 26th of January, advised that the United States is not now thinking about quarantine and implementing a federal quarantine rule,” D’Aguilar told The Nassau Guardian on Friday.
“So, that is good news. As you know, on January 26, the United States implemented the requirement of everybody to have a COVID test — PCR or antigen — before they return to the United States and there was talk, as put forth by President [Joe] Biden, that there could be a possibility of a mandatory quarantine upon return to the United States.
“We’ve now been advised that that is not going to be the case. It is going to be a recommendation that when persons return to the US, if they see fit, to try and quarantine and to get a test after being in the US after three to five days and, if they don’t get that test, to quarantine for 10 days.
“So, we are relieved that quarantine into the United States is now not going to materialize, but, the testing requirement still remains in effect and, as with an impediment to travel, that in itself is impactful but certainly not as impactful as the quarantine.”
On January 21, Biden signed an executive order which required everyone traveling into the US to quarantine upon arrival.
The order came less than three months after the Bahamian government eased entry protocols into The Bahamas to encourage tourist arrivals. Some major resorts, which had been shuttered since March 2020, reopened in December.
The executive order was one of many signed by the new president in an effort to get a handle on the spread of COVID-19 in the US where thousands of people are dying each day from the virus.
“It is the policy of my administration that, to the extent feasible, travelers seeking to enter the United States from a foreign country shall be: required to produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to entry; and required to comply with other applicable [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States,” the order reads.
On Friday, D’Aguilar said even though the US is not implementing the quarantine requirement, it is still “discouraging” individuals from traveling.
He said the US wants individuals to remain at home “as much as possible”.
“So, there [are] a lot of moving parts right now and my marketing team is of the view to let things settle down a little,” D’Aguilar said when asked if the Ministry of Tourism has any plans on enticing visitors to The Bahamas.
“Let some stability return back to the whole business of travel before we begin to start marketing again. But, as you can see, cases are quite significant in the developed countries and they are, unlike us here in The Bahamas, they are experiencing a surge on more fronts than they can accommodate.
“So, their hospitals are bursting at the seams and they’re having record levels of new cases and deaths every day. I think it’s going to be a bit bumpy in the short term until the vaccine begins to get traction and more people receive it.”