NEW RULES: PM urges caution as omicron variant likely in country

NEW RULES: PM urges caution as omicron variant likely in country
Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, addressed the media virtually, on December 23, 2021.

Davis in quarantine after wife tests positive for COVID-19

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As new coronavirus infections reached 140 on Wednesday, Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and health officials said the more transmissible omicron variant is believed to be in-country, though gene sequencing on samples sent abroad has not confirmed this.

With daily cases more than tripling in recent days and global trends of the omicron variant becoming the dominant strain, the government introduced new COVID-19 rules that will see stricter measures at the borders and on social gatherings.

According to the latest rules, an indoor gathering must be limited to no more than 20 people, while outdoor gatherings may have up to 30.

To enter The Bahamas, a visitor must present a travel health visa.

The 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.

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.

A cruise ship must provide a manifest, which confirms all passengers on board over the age of 12 have been vaccinated prior to arriving in The Bahamas, to gain permission to port.

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.

Islands in the second schedule include Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Inagua and New Providence.

For those on private aircraft or vessel, a negative COVID-19 test is required.

Traveling among islands outside of the second schedule does not require COVID-19 testing.

Travelers from those islands to one that is listed on the second schedule shall not be required to undergo a COVID-19 test to return to the originating island.

Travelers who seek to renter the country within 24-hours of departing shall not be required to undergo a new test to re-enter The Bahamas.

Restaurants on islands in the second schedule must ensure patrons are fully vaccinated to eat indoors and capacity shall be limited to 50 percent of seating capacity.

This does not apply to islands outside of the second schedule.

Worst phase

During a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said The Bahamas could be headed for the worst phase of the pandemic.

As he encouraged families to be scale back their gathering during the holidays, especially to protect vulnerable members, Davis confirmed that his wife Anne-Marie, and several other relatives contracted COVID-19 following a family gathering last weekend that included several relatives from abroad.

He said although everyone was vaccinated and tested negatively before traveling, on the fifth day they tested positively.

Davis was quarantined as a result out of caution but said after multiple tests he remained negative.

“…We are looking at a few extremely difficult weeks ahead because of the omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus,” said Davis, who noted that cases of the virus have continued to increase in the last few days.

Omicron continues to spread swiftly around the world.

It has become the dominant strain in The United States.

He indicated The Bahamas must avoid an explosion of cases.

The Bahamas is awaiting the results of gene sequencing of 200 samples sent to Panama to determine if the omicron variants has arrived.

But Davis said his administration is acting as if the variant is already in-country, pointing out that there were 26 cases on Monday, 73 on Tuesday and 140 on Wednesday.

Data shows that while omicron remains more transmissible, it does not appear more deadly or severe.

“The number of cases here is likely to go quickly and substantially,” Davis said.

“I am going to tell it to you straight because omicron is so contagious, we could be entering the worst phase of the pandemic. We must do whatever we can to reduce the total number of infections. We want as a few as those infections to cause serious illness as possible

The prime minister said rapid antigen tests remain a “critical tool”, but the PCR test is more sensitive and can pick infection from the virus earlier in its course.

According to Davis, the government is seeking to provide free COVID-19 testing as soon as possible and requests for proposals will be sought to partner with a vendor “who can meet the standards which are essential…”.

He also said the government’s vaccination program, including offering a booster shot for added protection, must continue.

He also advised the government is attempting to source new COVID-19 medication that can reduce the severity of the disease.

But Davis could not provide a timeline.

As part of the government’s preparation for a potential increase in hospitalizations, Davis said the South Beach Clinic is being prepared to accommodate additional services.


Davis acknowledged that after a challenging few years, the nation was prepared to relax and celebrate, but he said unfortunately the virus has changed.

“We all need to adjust our own thinking about what risks are acceptable and we need to do quickly,” Davis said.

According to the amended rules gazette yesterday, to host or promote an event, such as a concert, regatta, carnival, or Junkanoo parade, an application must be submitted to the Advisory Committee for approval no less than two weeks prior to the anticipated date of the event.

The application must include the size of the venue, number of expected attendees, proposed measures to mitigate the virus, a declaration of intention to comply with the protocols, among other measures.

The advisory committee reserves the right to rescind approval for an event, according to the latest rules.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.


And tourists started cancelling last night as a 3 day rt-pcr test is impossible in many areas and the travel visa can take 4days or more to process after test is uploaded so we are back to the old day

The change from 5 day to 3 day test changing on Christmas Eve was so stupid. This will cost the Bahamas millions in lost revenue from tourists.

We canceled 3 Bahamas trips last night from the Detroit area. PCR test results in our area are taking 3 to 4 days. Antigen test results are available within an hour. We did move one trip to arrive before January 7th so we only need the Antigen test. Pfizer Fully Vaccinated with Booster. All trips canceled were 11 night resort trips….Good luck saving your tourists trade

Thank you Mr Davis. Please kill the economy as quickly as you can. My investment group are waiting to buy as much of the Bahamas as possible. We will be able to buy much more than our initial estimate. Long live capitalism and getting a strangle hold on the Bahamas.

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