NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Director of Labour John Pinder said he plans to recommend to the government that major hotels in the country consider allowing groups of workers to reside on-property to defray concerns of guests seeking to vacation in place next month.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Pinder said he believes the measure, which mirrors the cruise ships, could further incentivize visitors and ultimately limit the potential spread for COVID-19 in resorts when combined with other health guidelines.
Last week, the Ministry of Tourism announced its ‘vacation in place’ (VIP) tourism initiative, which seeks to flip the mandatory quarantine period into a luxury experience.
The director said he understood some bookings were canceled due to intended visitors not fully understanding the vacation in place concept, as well as concerns that those providing service to them would still be interacting with the general public.
“The large hotel operators and large employers, everybody who has a good amount of numbers of persons, who may be challenged with their customers having a concern about the staff not being quarantined on the property so to speak or having access to the general public,” Pinder told Eyewitness News.
“I don’t want to step out of my boundary, but I am hopeful that the competent authority and the health officials will come up with some remedy that may work.
“But in the absence of that, I will still try as best I can to give my little recommendations were possible.
“…We may have to start operating like a cruise ship. I certainly will expand on it and give my views on it.”
Asked for details, Pinder suggested a group of employees could reside at the hotel for a period such as a month and rotate to limit the numbers of employees interacting with the general public.
Pinder said he planned to make the recommendations within the next week.
He also recommended zoning or geofencing the resorts, ensuring hoteliers are regularly tested, and temperature scanned at the entry and exit points.
Firm reopening dates for both Atlantis and other resorts remain unknown.
In June, Baha Mar postponed its opening to October as a result of the “evolving nature” of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Atlantis said it continues to evaluate its reopening timeline and that it would soon announce a specific date to reopen.
Last week, British Colonial Hilton advised its staff that it will extend its temporary suspension of operations until further notice, citing the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the country.
The Ministry of Tourism has recommended reopening on October 15.
Yesterday, Pinder said as part of living with the virus, which is expected to be around for a long time in absence of a viable vaccine, “we have to try things because you know people have got to continue to live”.
“In order for you to live you need money,” the director said.
“In order for you to get money, you’ve got to work.
“In order for businesses to survive, they need some level of economic activity going on.
“So, we need to be on one accord with this. There is too much fighting against the government trying to do what is right.”