On Saturday, The Bahamas officially opened its borders to fully vaccinated visitors who can now forego the inconvenient, uncomfortable COVID-19 RT/PCR test as part of their travel plans, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) revealed in a public health statement yesterday.
Vaccinated passengers will still have to pay the cost of the Bahamas Travel Health Visa, which opts them in to the government’s health insurance plan “that covers them for the duration of their stay in The Bahamas”, according to the MOTA’s website, but will not have to take the day five antigen test, which is covered in the cost of the visa.
Vaccinated Bahamians are now able to travel to the Family Islands without the added expense of a $100 or more RT/PCR test, something Bahamasair Chairman Tommy Turnquest recently said could be the reason for muted Family Island travel.
“Effective immediately, Bahamian citizens and residents who are fully vaccinated – after receiving their second dose – will be exempt from COVID-19 testing requirements when traveling inter-island from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera to any other island,” the statement noted.
“Effective May 1, 2021, international visitors traveling to The Bahamas from other countries who are fully vaccinated and have passed the two-week immunity period will be exempt from testing requirements for entry and inter-island travel.”
For Bahamians, the vaccine rollout has been slow and not many people have been fully vaccinated, though there is hope that will change when The Bahamas receives another shipment of vaccines at the end of this month.
This change in travel protocol for The Bahamas comes as the country prepares to become a home port for Royal Caribbean International and Crystal Cruises.
The change means thousands of cruise travelers will be able to fly into Nassau to board their ships without the hassle of testing before they board their planes. However, those travelers will still be required to apply for their Bahamas Travel Health Visa and will have to provide proof of vaccination.
“They will not need to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test prior to entry, submit to rapid testing mandates or complete the daily health questionnaire during their stay,” the statement noted.
“At this time, the Bahamas government will only be accepting vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.”
The Ministry of Tourism statement noted that the requirements for unvaccinated travelers remain the same.