NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Tourism has advised that Bahamians in South Florida, whose flights were canceled yesterday due to inclement weather, will be able to use their current Bahamas Health Visa to enter the country.
The ministry’s assurance came after a video was circulated about Bahamians being stuck abroad due to difficulties obtaining a Bahamas Health Travel Visa and cancelled flights as a result of Tropical Depression Eta as it approached South Florida.
Bahamas Air Traffic Control suspended services at noon yesterday and was expected to resume at 7am today.
As a result, the Lynden Pindling International Airport was closed to flight operations.
LPIA advised travelers to contact their respective airlines for flight updates.
The ministry noted in its statement that all travelers who were impacted will be able to return home on the first available flight departing Miami.
“We understand that due to the weather delay, there are travelers whose COVID-19 RT PCR test would now have expired,” it said.
“The hard-working individuals in the travel unit of the Ministry of Tourism, who diligently review and approve the health travel visa applications, will continue to accommodate, as they have always done, and following consultation with the Ministry of Health all travelers who may have legitimate requests for deviations from the current requirements such as this current situation.
“No traveler will ever be expected to pay any additional amounts for either the test or the visa, for events totally out of their control.”
Weighing in on the issue, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell said yesterday the fee for the health visa should be waived for all Bahamians.
“The prime minister sought to cover himself by saying that Bahamians ought to have enough money for taking the COVID-19 test and paying for the visa,” Mitchell said.
“It was an insensitive comment to make. Clearly, in many cases, the visa and the test have expired and in these budgetary times, who would have budgeted for it twice.”
On November 1, The Bahamas implemented a new testing regime for re-entry into the country that requires an RT-PCR COVID test no more than five days before the date of arrival, a $40 health visa and a rapid antigen test five days after arrival in the country.
The ministry noted that The Bahamas Travel Health Visa has been a requirement for entry into the country since July 1, to ensure that all travellers entering The Bahamas have completed the necessary health protocols before their arrival.
The statement also warned that no RT-PCR COVID-19 test performed in The Bahamas can be used for re-entry into the country.
“Some citizens and residents, who are making short trips out the country are having the required RT PCR test completed in The Bahamas before they leave,” it said.
“Their intention is to use that test to return home.
“Clearly, no RT PCR test performed in The Bahamas can be used to re-enter The Bahamas.”