The Bahamas began the long-awaited process of reopening to tourism again on Thursday, entering Phase 3 of the nation’s Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan.
As of Oct. 15, beaches and major hotels are permitted to open. However, all visitors are required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test taken no more than seven days prior to arrival. Children age 10 and under are exempt from the islands’ testing requirement.
After obtaining a negative COVID-19 test result, travelers are then required to apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa at travel.gov.bs, where they must upload the test result. Meanwhile, a rapid antigen test will be conducted upon arrival and then again four days later to ensure visitors age 11 and up remain COVID-free throughout their stay. The cost of the rapid tests is included in the cost of the visa.
American Airlines recently resumed flights from Miami to Freeport, North Eleuthera and George Town, Exuma and plans to resume service to Nassau and Marsh Harbour later this fall. What’s more, the carrier will soon offer passengers a rapid COVID-19 antigen test before they board, allowing them to bypass the initial test upon arrival in the Bahamas.
Initially, travelers to the islands will be limited to their hotel or resort as part of the country’s “Vacation in Place” requirement. Now through Oct. 31, visitors must remain on the grounds of their hotel or accommodations for 14 days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter. Guests can still access amenities during this time, including spas, gyms and bars.
The Vacation in Place order will be lifted on Nov. 1, allowing visitors freedom of movement outside of their resort and the ability to explore attractions and enjoy excursions and tours.
While it’s not clear when marquee resorts such as Atlantis Paradise Island and Baha Mar plan to reopen, the coming weeks should see a plethora of highly anticipated openings, including The Abaco Beach Resort on Nov. 1.
(Article written by Patrick Clarke)