If you were planning on traveling to the Bahamas over the holidays you may want to reconsider. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently warned citizens to avoid all travel to the country.
The Bahamas is now officially Level 4 on the CDC list, meaning that they believe the risk of COVID-19 to be very high.
“The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas have taken note of the travel advisory issued by the United States, 23 November 2020, regarding The Bahamas,” read a joint statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism.
“While the general advisory is Level 3 — reconsider travel to The Bahamas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice — travelers should avoid all travel to The Bahamas.
“The Bahamas understands the need for all countries, including the USA, to put in place health and safety measures in the best interest of its nationals. At the same time, The Bahamas has also put in place travel parameters for the protection of Bahamians, residents and tourists in the country, namely by requiring all persons traveling to The Bahamas to have a COVID-19 Travel Visa and a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test to enter The Bahamas.
“Upon entry, all persons are required to undergo mandatory monitoring and testing where necessary. Strict health and safety protocols, such as mask-wearing, [social] distancing and hand sanitization, are in place at all times. These safety measures are laid out in various Emergency Orders that have been widely circulated, both nationally and internationally. Failure to comply with these protocols will result in fines or even imprisonment.”
The Bahamas is currently in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19. While the country managed to avoid high case numbers during the first wave, case numbers surged in the country after tourism started back up in July. The country was forced to restrict visitors, including those from the U.S. only three weeks after reopening, and since then has undergone a number of travel restrictions and lockdowns.
While case numbers in the Bahamas have begun to drop, falling 29% last week, health officials continue to advise residents to follow emergency measures to reduce the spread.
The latest travel warning will be a hit to the Bahamas tourism industry, which only just reopened at the beginning of the month. The majority of visitors to the Bahamas come from the U.S., meaning tourism will take another hit if residents listen. The U.S. is also in the midst of a second wave, with record-high case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths.
So far, the Bahamian government doesn’t appear too worried about the travel advisory.
“The Bahamas is confident that if all visitors, nationals and residents abide by these regulations, the spread of the pandemic will be stemmed and the loss of lives will be prevented. At the same time, while observing these rules, visitors will have an enjoyable stay in The Bahamas. The government of The Bahamas is committed to the safety of every person within its borders and will adhere to medical and scientific advice. The Bahamas will continue to work with all countries to fight the pandemic and treat those who have been afflicted by the virus until a vaccine is available. Until such time, we urge all persons to spare no measure to observe health and safety protocols.”
It remains to see how much of a blow this will be to the Bahamas and whether case numbers will rise again as visitors begin to flock to the country again.