14-day quarantine remains for all travel from NP
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis today stressed the new international travel policy does not discriminate against Bahamians as it governs all travel into and throughout the country until a domestic travel policy is finalized.
Effective today, the international travel policy drops the proposed rapid antigen testing and the mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.
All travelers require a health visa, negative RT-PCR test, and are required to take a rapid antigen test on the fifth day.
If the antigen test is positive, the individual will be required to follow up with a COVID-19 RT-PCR swab test.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Minnis said the 14-day quarantine period is still in effect for anyone that travels from New Providence, or has transited on the island for more than 24 hours.
“(Incoming travelers) must leave New Providence within 24 hours. The same applies to Bahamians, if a Bahamian wants to go to Cat Island and he coming through Nassau, he must leave within 24 hours, he’s transit, now the question was should you give them 36 hours and sometimes these are difficult decisions.”
Minnis said: “I told them no, if you give 36 hours the guest will still comply. The Bahamian will come and he will go all over the place doing all his shopping and partying and whatever else, and then expose, and then go and take [an] exam. But if you can keep him for a small length of time, don’t give him that extra window you reduce your chances of getting infected.”
The new measures were unveiled on Saturday by Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, who announced that all visitors will be required to purchase health insurance.
He also noted there is no requirement to enroll in the Hubbcat monitoring app.
D’Aguilar said visitors who test positive while in the country will be allowed to quarantine for up to 14 days if asymptomatic; or, for those with pre-existing conditions or symptoms, get medically evacuated.
Minnis told Eyewitness News the decision to drop rapid antigen testing upon arrival was based on advice from the health team.
He explained the general consensus was that the antigen testing would have little impact so soon after the mandatory RT-PCR test required for entry.
“There is no discrimination, PCR for everybody,” he said.
“If I went over there for two hours, I can’t come back until I can get my PCR. The law applies to everybody, see the data is there. The data shows that the infection is as a result of the Bahamians and therefore you must close all opportunities or we’ll be back to square one.”
Minnis underscored the existing regulations provide exemptions for individuals who require short-term inter-island travel from New Providence.
“Let’s say, somebody who going down to the bank and coming back,” he said.
“Someone who going down to do some construction or generator repair and coming back. You can exempt them because they coming right back, the law provides that.
Minnis said: “Outside of that they are quarantined for 14 days. What that means is if an American or anyone originated from New Providence, be they American, Bahamian or whatever, they are subjected to the 14-day quarantine.
“So it’s not discrimination, what happen is we’ve only completed the international but you can’t hold the country back because you have not.”
The latest emergency orders released on Friday outlined a marginal range of eased restrictions for Abaco and New Providence while maintaining travel protocols that mandate a negative RT PCR COVID-19 test and quarantine for 14 days.
The emergency order also upholds monitoring by way of the Hubbcat platform as a condition of entry to the country.