Tourism reverses decision on hotel COVID testing requirement

Tourism reverses decision on hotel COVID testing requirement
(Courtesy of Warwick)

Police will monitor hotels to ensure compliance

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Following consultation with health officials and the prime minister, the Ministry of Tourism has pulled back on its requirement for hotels to deny guests who do not have a negative COVID-19 test.

In a statement today, the ministry advised that a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test will not be required by Bahamian and resident guests of hotels.

“The health and well-being of the population remains of upmost importance,” the statement read.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Health has recommended, and the Competent Authority has agreed to, two provisions.”

Those provisions include strict adherence to mask wearing, social distancing and sanitization protocols, as well as the closure of all indoor dining.

“The Royal Bahamas Police Force will be asked to remain particularly vigilant in its surveillance of hotel properties to ensure compliance,” the statement read.

“Properties will be fined and/or closed per the orders if they are found to be in violation.”

The decision comes less than 24 hours after the tourism ministry announced the new restriction — a move that would have significantly impacted local hotels that have advertised special rates and weekend packages for Bahamians and residents for several weeks.
In its statement on Wednesday,  the ministry acknowledged the offer, adding that “weekend lockdowns are being implemented for the sole purpose of curbing further spread of COVID-19” and outlined the new policy.

Attorney General Carl Bethel explained that since hotels have been declared “quarantine sites”, people will be only be allowed to utilize the amenities if they have a negative COVID-19 test.

He told Eyewitness News an amendment to the the emergency order reflecting the changes will be released yesterday.

That amendment was expected to deal with specific provisions governing inter-island travel, its limitations, and access to hotel properties and amenities.

However, Bethel told Eyewitness News this morning that the order was still being “settled”.