Daily risk assessment required for a domestic travel visa
$100 fine or one week in prison for breach
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government’s domestic travel visa is expected to be implemented shortly and will include a daily risk assessment and a rapid COVID-19 antigen test on the fifth day of stay, according to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
Minnis advised on the matter following questions from the media on when the mandatory 14-day quarantine period will be removed for inter-island travel.
The prime minister said he was “assured by the minister of tourism that the travel visa is now ready and we’re going to do a trial test run”.
He explained that once the online visa portal is ready, individuals will be able to log on and will be required to complete a risk assessment form “every day” and have rapid tests conducted on the fifth day.
“Once that is in place, then the quarantine will be removed, but it’s essential for them to complete the daily risk assessment,” Minnis said.
He added that if the assessment isn’t completed daily, there will be a $100 penalty/fine or one week in prison for each day the assessment is not done.
“We are taking this matter seriously because the irresponsible can jeopardize the future of our country.”
On November 1, the Ministry of Tourism implemented a new testing regime for entry into the country which included an RT-PCR test no more than five days from the travel date, a travel health certificate and a rapid antigen test five days after arrival into the country.
While the regime initially included inter-island travel, the protocol was discontinued and the 14-day quarantine was reimplemented.
The prime minister has insisted that the protocol was not discriminatory towards Bahamians.
Essential travel only
Minnis once again urged Bahamians to only travel if necessary, while pointing to the second surge in COVID-19 cases in July.
In just two months, the novel coronavirus had spread to nearly every major island of The Bahamas.
As of July 1, there were 104 cases of the virus dispersed across four islands — New Providence with 82, Grand Bahama with eight, Bimini with 13 and Cat Cay with one.
Since the country reopened its borders to international travel, more than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded. As of Sunday, there were 7,256 total cases.
“When we look at what happened the last time, the infections were not related to the guests coming in; the infections were related to guests going out,” Minnis said.
“I would advise Bahamians that they are not to travel unless absolutely necessary.”
The prime minister added that reports have indicated that Bahamians are visiting countries in “the north”, going to flea markets and other stores, and not wearing masks.
He said if Bahamians do decide to travel, they should wear a mask and practice social distancing even in the places where those protocols are not law.
“They can assume that the numbers have gone up within the northern areas, and just how over 4,000 were infected [in The Bahamas], there’s a possibility for even more to be infected because the numbers are higher, and therefore it’s a greater chance of being in contact with individuals,” he added.
“I would advise Bahamians if you are traveling, first and foremost, you should not travel unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you travel, then wear your mask, even in those facilities abroad, to protect yourself.”