Brennen: We cannot “let our guard down”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Chief Deputy Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen has encouraged individuals to report incidents where they have not been required to fill out health forms when inter-island travelling.
The requirement to complete a standardized travel form and a standardized health form at the time of check-in is to travel to all islands of The Bahamas is to ensure contact information is collected and to assess the risk of COVID-19.
The measures were announced on June 1.
At the time, the Office of the Prime Minister said health and tourism officials were working on a digital solution to streamline the travel process and airlines were developing healthy and safety protocols to reduce the risk of exposure during travel.
Jane Young, whose name has been changed to protect their identity, told Eyewitness News she recently travelled to a Family Island with her family, but was only required to fill out forms manual upon reentry to New Providence.
Brennen told Eyewitness News: “For us, it has absolutely started and our conversations with our partners at tourism and immigration has definitely that persons are, when they arrive at a border or when they leave New Providence or another Family Island, the expectation is that they are checked at that time to ensure that they have completed the appropriate paperwork to do so.
“So, if there are instances where people are not doing so or they are not being checked, those are things we would want to know so we can continue to reinforce on what is happening because we know persons who are on our Family Islands, don’t necessarily — especially those who have not had COVID-19 — don’t want us to let our guard down and let COVID-19 into their island.
“But in general, the Ministry of Health would like to continue make sure that we are screening persons appropriately and if those are persons who are high risk that are found, then we minimize their ability to transit COVID-19 to other communities, so we minimize the spread around the country.”
Previously, individuals were required to obtain a COVID-19 travel card and a medical exam by a doctor to ensure low risk of the virus before traveling between islands.
When asked which entity was responsible for ensuring domestic travelers complete and submit forms appropriately, Brennen said it was a combination of oversight by the Ministries of Tourism and Health, as well as the Department Immigration.
Notwithstanding the relaxed procedures more recently, there have been reports of individuals travelling without being required to present the requisite forms.