HIT THE BRAKES: Ministry of Tourism suspends mandatory RT-PCR testing for entry of fully vaxxed travelers

HIT THE BRAKES: Ministry of Tourism suspends mandatory RT-PCR testing for entry of fully vaxxed travelers

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas has suspended the planned mandatory RT-PCR testing requirement for vaccinated travelers, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

The policy turnaround follows a warning last week from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that advised Bahamians to expect delays in obtaining COVID test results and flight cancelations during the holiday period due to rising cases.

In a statement last night, the ministry advised that the protocol which was expected to take effect on Friday, January 7, will no longer be implemented.

“Vaccinated persons, as well as children ages 2-11, may continue to present either a negative rapid antigen test or negative RT-PCR test,” the statement advised.

“In addition, effective 4 January 2022, all persons remaining in The Bahamas for longer than 48 hours will be required to undergo a rapid antigen test, regardless of vaccination status.”

According to the updated protocols, all those traveling to The Bahamas from other countries, whether fully vaccinated or unvaccinated, will be required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days (72 hours) prior to the date of arrival in the country.

Meanwhile, all unvaccinated travelers, aged 12 and older, must present a negative RT-PCR Test (acceptable tests include NAAT, PCR, RNA, RT-PCR and TMA).

Children under the age of two are exempt from any testing requirements.

The updated protocol also replaces the existing Day-five rapid antigen testing requirement, now requiring visitors staying in The Bahamas for longer than 48-hours to take a mandatory antigen test.

However, visitors departing on or before 48 hours will not be required to obtain this test.

Before the Christmas holiday, the prime minister announced that the government introduced new COVID-19 rules that will see stricter measures at the borders and on social gatherings.

In order to enter the country, a traveler must either be fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test or health clearance letter, and if not fully vaccinated, a negative RT-PCR test or health clearance letter, along with a travel health visa. 

It was expected that effective January 7, a citizen or legal resident aged two or older must submit a negative RT-PCR test and evidence of vaccination, if fully vaccinated, to enter The Bahamas

For inter-island travel to an island on the second schedule, a traveler must present negative results of a rapid antigen test or RT-PCR test if fully vaccinated, and an RT-PCR test if unvaccinated.

Health officials recorded 315 cases on Monday, taking the number of cases in the country to 26,326, with 3,507 still active. 

The government officially launched its free testing program on New Providence at several vaccine centers throughout the capital yesterday.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.


We were just about to cancel our trip this morning when I saw this great news. I am glad it has become evident that it is extremely difficult to get a PCR result AND a travel visa within the 72 hour window. We are fully (triple) vaccinated and what a shame it would have been for us not to make this eagerly awaited return visit to our favorite place. I even called restaurants today where I had made reservations to make sure all was ok for next week and they all said “please come”. Someone made the right call here. Unless we get sick between now and next Thursday, we will be back doing our part supporting your hospitality industry (which we have loved since 1988)

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