D’Aguilar urges Bahamians to help curb COVID spread for US travel advisory reassessment

D’Aguilar urges Bahamians to help curb COVID spread for US travel advisory reassessment
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar today urged Bahamians to do their part in helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 and bring down the number of positive cases in the country, noting that this is key to the United States revising its travel advisory against this nation.

D’Aguilar told reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting that a recent health notice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that warned travelers to avoid all travel to the country was “concerning”.

“This situation is no change from what was said by the US government from July. This situation has been in effect from July. It’s all about timing. When they released the do-not-travel order at the end of July, it was very unfortunate because up to the end of June we had been doing so remarkably well in terms of our management of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of October, we were not doing terribly well. Here we are a month later and we are doing much better. We are hoping the Americans see fit to do a reassessment as they see our numbers improve and see fit to change that rating,” said D’Aguilar.

The US State Department has also issued a similar advisory on The Bahamas. This latest travel advisory specifically calls for US citizens to “reconsider travel to The Bahamas due to health and safety measures and COVID-related conditions [and] exercise caution in some areas of The Bahamas due to crime”.

“Obviously it’s concerning but it’s a function of timing. This is why it’s so important for the Bahamian public to do what they need to do. People, don’t party, please don’t congregate because if you contribute to a spike in numbers, this rating or warning will persist. We are heading in the right direction; our numbers are coming down and this will lead to a change in that travel advisory,” said D’Aguilar.

He added: “There is no doubt that the level of COVID, the death rate and positivity rate in The Bahamas is half that in the United States and so it’s much better here than there. However, they will always respond that ‘if you can issue travel advisories, so can we’. There is no point in fighting that. We just have to improve and continue to improve our numbers and ensure we keep our numbers respectable so they can change that advisory. Obviously, we depend on the US for almost all our tourists so it’s very important that in their eyes we change our status or level of community spread because if they change that rating, it will be positive for The Bahamas.”

D’Aguilar urged all Bahamians to participate in helping to curb the spread of the virus.

“We think they will improve as our numbers improve. We need all Bahamians to participate. When I see videos with people coming out of clubs, I shake my head and beg the Bahamian people, let us keep our numbers heading in a downward direction because this then leads to an improvement in the rating by the US government,” said D’Aguilar.