Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Statement on Covid-19 and Initial Plan to Reopen Tourism Sector
NASSAU, Bahamas, May 28, 2020 – The Bahamas Prime Minister, The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, this week, announced initial plans to reinstate tourism to the country. Extensive health and safety protocols are currently being finalized with a target date of July 1 to reopen to commercial travel. Additionally, American Airlines has just announced that the airline will resume international flights to Nassau and Exuma beginning July 7.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation is continuing to follow guidance from the Bahamas Ministry of Health and other government agencies pertaining to the country’s Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19. A Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee has been established among public and private sector partners to develop a collaborative plan for reopening. The committee collected and considered feedback from every type of business and tourism touchpoint - from airlines and cruise ports, to hotels, taxi drivers, tour operators and retailers, to name a few. The intent is to provide health and safety guidelines and protocols to be followed consistently across the country that allow businesses to protect employees and guests.
At this point in time, the July 1 reopening date is tentative and subject to change based on COVID-19 trends, namely, if there is a deterioration in improvement or if government and health organizations determine that the protocols and procedures are not in place sufficiently to warrant an opening. Details of the phased and gradual opening include:
· As it relates to residents, The Bahamas has started to transition to Phase 3 of the five-phase reopening plan. This phase includes the introduction of non-essential storefront business operations with essential staff required to allow the business to function, posted protocols, staff training and the management of lines inside and outside of stores. o For latest news on the reopening plan, see here.
· Access for domestic and international travellers will apply only to those islands where the outbreak has been contained.
o As of today, these islands include Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros, which were authorized to resume commercial activity on Monday, May 18.
o The southern islands of Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island and Rum Cay have also previously been cleared as part of a gradual reopening of the Family Islands.
· The Ministry of Health has developed a policy and protocol for the approval and monitoring of individuals conducting inter-island travel to those islands that have resumed normal commercial activity.
o In the first phase of travel, residents of Family Islands currently in New Providence can return home after first going through the approval and testing process – which began on Wednesday, May 20.
§ Those wishing to travel between restricted islands and those open to commercial activity must register by calling 511 or e-mailing authorities.
§ Individuals must be examined by a physician and the evaluation will include a risk assessment by questionnaire.
§ Individuals will be issued a COVID-19 Authorization Card if approved and must travel with that card as well as a government-issued ID card.
o Residents in the authorized Family Islands listed earlier may travel between those islands by plane or boat, without receiving a COVID-19 card.
· Currently, while international arrivals are still prohibited, the process for Bahamians seeking permission to return home from destinations abroad includes, first, registering at a Bahamas embassy or consulate and secondly, obtaining a COVID-19 molecular swab test with a negative result.
o Upon returning home, if necessary in the view of health professionals, the test may be repeated by the Ministry of Health who will conduct the evaluation and screening of all arriving passengers. No other persons or residents may be approved to travel to The Bahamas without first obtaining a COVID-19 molecular swab test with a negative result.
o All those returning will be required to be quarantined for fourteen days, in a government quarantined facility or self-quarantined and are subject to mandatory quarantine verification monitoring by the Ministry of Health.
o All additional questions and inquiries relating to testing should be directed to the Ministry of Health.
Until official reopening to domestic and international travellers is confirmed, the following restrictions remain in place:
● No visitor shall be permitted to enter and disembark for any reason including transiting through The Bahamas.
● The Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) has closed the Lynden Pindling International Airport and all other airports throughout The Bahamas are closed to incoming flights carrying passengers.
○ Airlines are permitted, with proper approval, to fly empty aircraft into The Bahamas to retrieve international visitors and return them to their home country.
○ All seaports shall be closed to regional and international seafaring and private boating.
○ Air and sea restrictions do not apply to: cargo flights or cargo ships, commercial courier flights, emergency medical flights or emergency flights approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.
○ All international visitors currently in The Bahamas should be prepared to stay for an indefinite period of time.
○ No person shall offer for hire or seek to travel on any mail boat, sailing inter- island, except for transport of freight, or inter-island private commercial sea transport.
● Most resorts and hotels on Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and the Out Islands are currently closed to international travellers. Please see below for a full list of when these resorts plan to reopen.
■ The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas remains open for business during this time. If you have questions about the resort services and facilities, please reach out to the hotel directly at +1.242.363.2501.
■ Meliá Nassau Beach–All Inclusive: closed until July 1, 2020
■ Atlantis, Paradise Island: closed until July 1, 2020
■ Baha Mar: closed until July 1, 2020
■ Sandals Royal Bahamian: closed until July 1, 2020
■ Bay View Suites Paradise Island, Bahamas: closed until July 1, 2020
■ Comfort Suites Paradise Island: closed through July 1, 2020
○ Grand Bahama
■ All hotels and resorts are closed until further notice.
○ Out Islands
■ All hotels and resorts are closed until further notice.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation believes it is an absolute baseline requirement for consumers to have a comfort level that The Bahamas is a safe and healthy destination to visit, and our ultimate goal is for that to remain the case. Please visit the Bahamas Ministry of Health’s website for the latest information on COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas. Full details on existing Emergency Orders as well as the latest address from The Bahamas Prime Minister, The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, may be found at opmbahamas.com.
The Bahamas is conducting COVID-19 testing and has been actively employing several measures used globally to screen visitors and residents and to manage the response to individuals of concern, in line with international health best practices. Traveller health questionnaires and a screening protocol have been used at ports, hotels and rental properties to identify guests who may require surveillance or treatment. In addition, all Bahamian nationals and residents returning to The Bahamas through any point of entry from any of the restricted countries or an area where community infection and spread is present, have been quarantined or placed under self-isolation upon arrival and are expected to follow the protocols of the Ministry of Health.
A destination-wide education campaign continues to remind the public of the basic hygiene practices that should be used to prevent the spread of the virus, including frequent, proper hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, frequent disinfection of surfaces and avoiding close contact with those exhibiting signs of respiratory illness.
All COVID-19 inquiries should be directed to the Ministry of Health. For questions or concerns, please call the COVID-19 hotline: 242-376-9350 (8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EDT) / 242-376-9387 (8 p.m. – 8 a.m. EDT).
General Manager, Global Communications
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Relations Bahamas@webershandwick.com