The Bahamas is rolling back its tourism reopening in the coming days, after a recent spike in coronavirus cases.
The Bahamas opened to tourists this month
The Bahamas opened to tourists as of July 1, 2020. Like so many countries, the Bahamas tried to find the right balance between restarting tourism and protecting its people. Roughly 50% of the country’s GDP comes from tourism.
The Bahamas required international visitors to present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test taken no more than 10 days prior to the date of travel.
While we’ve seen many countries require testing for visitors, the Bahamas took a different approach than other countries:
- Many countries require a negative result for a test taken within 48-72 hours of travel; given testing processing times right now, that’s largely not realistic
- 10 days is a more realistic timeline for getting a test and a result nowadays, though at the same time the test is potentially so old at that point that it’s of limited use
Bahamas rolls back tourism reopening
While the Bahamas had no new reported coronavirus cases between June 17 and July 9, that has changed in recent days. The country has seen 17 new confirmed cases between July 10 and July 19, and as a result the country is adding restrictions on visitors.
As of Wednesday, July 22, 2020, international commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter the Bahamas, except for commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
Private international flights and charters for Bahamians, residents, and visitors, will be permitted. Pleasure craft and yachts will also be permitted.
As you can see, this excludes most Americans from visiting the Bahamas, and that’s the biggest tourist market for the country. Note that Americans aren’t explicitly banned — it’s just commercial flights between the US and the Bahamas that are banned, while private flights would still be allowed, for example.
The Bahamas has so far reported 153 confirmed cases and 11 deaths. The country has carried out a total of 2,645 tests.
With an increase in new coronavirus cases, it makes sense that the Bahamas would be rolling back part of its reopening plan. Commercial flights between the US and the Bahamas will be banned as of July 22, meaning that most Americans will no longer be able to travel to the Bahamas.
This once again highlights the general challenges with planning any travel in advance now. Rules constantly change, whether we’re talking about entry rules to a country, or even quarantine rules in a US state.
I imagine the Bahamas won’t be the only country tweaking its reopening plan.