From the government - “Our top priority has and will always be our commitment to the health and well-being of our residents and visitors” said Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation Director General Joy Jibrilu. “We must remember that we are living in a new normal in the wake of COVID-19 and a lot is going to change across the tourism sector. We are putting an even greater emphasis on making sure The Bahamas is safe and clean for everyone, and look forward to once again providing travelers with the tropical experience our islands are known for.”
So what can travelers expect?
All visitors will receive temperature screenings by healthcare personnel.
Travelers must wear face masks in “any situation where it is necessary to enforce physical distancing guidelines, such as when entering and transiting air and sea terminals, while navigating security and customs screenings, and at baggage claim.”
On departure, flights will be scheduled at every other gate to provide “as much distance between flights as possible.”
On-island, hotels and other accommodation providers will have to enforce extensive health and safety protocols, ranging from limiting the number of guests in elevators to discontinuing buffets.
“The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation believes it is an absolute baseline requirement for consumers to have a comfort level that The Bahamas is a safe and healthy destination to visit, and the ultimate goal is for that to remain the case,” the Ministry said in a statement. Accordingly, the reopening plan will continue to be monitored, with dates subject to change “based on COVID-19 trends.”
Here are some things you need to know.
First - Click here to go to the Bahamas Tourism Reopening Plan web site. You will see the Travel Health Visa application here. This must be completely filled out, and that includes the fact that you must have a COVID-19 test within 10 days or less of your Bahamas arrival, and the test must be negative. You must upload the test result with your application, and you must show this test result again upon arrival in the Bahamas. Failure to show the test result will mean that you will be denied entry into the country.
Also, social distancing and wearing a face mask will be strictly enforced in the appropriate locations, especially indoors. You can download the plan and guidelines for Phase 2 on this same web site.
OK, we've been talking with our friends all over the Bahamas, in government, in fishing operations, and in the overall hotel and tourism sectors.....and everyone agrees that July 1 will be the reopening date with the government requirements being strictly enforced. Some of the Out Island resorts and fishing operation that will reopen are nervous about receiving foreign visitors, but they know they need the business. We say this because it is very important that all visitors obey the rules and guidelines.....unlike what is going on here in the States with many people not wearing masks where they should, and not practicing social distancing. Populations on the Out Islands are small, and some of the islands don't have any sort of sufficient medical facilities to treat COVID patients, and as one of our friends from Harbour Island said, "We can't afford to have a COVID outbreak. That would mean evacuating people to Nassau and no one wants that."
It's great that the Bahamas is going to reopen - for the Bahamians and their economy, and for foreign visitors who can enjoy the island again, including the fantastic fishing. So please, let's all make this work for everyone and practice the required and appropriate safety rules, regulations, and guidelines.
For those of you who plan to go in July, have fun, and hope you enjoy some great fishing.
We won't be going until October, and are really looking forward to it. We've also begun booking a number of our BFFG friends and clients with our top guides and favorite lodges starting in October. Please get in touch to begin your travel planning! We look forward to talking with you.
Stephen and Kim