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Bahamas Bans Most U.S. Travelers After Uptick in Coronavirus Cases

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Any visitors or residents found not wearing face masks in required areas will be subject to a $200 fine or a month imprisonment.

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Any visitors or residents found not wearing face masks in required areas will be subject to a $200 fine or a month imprisonment.

In a reversal of its July 1 reopening, the Bahamas is no longer permitting commercial flights carrying passengers from the United States starting July 22.

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This is a developing story. For the latest information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Puerto Rico isn’t the only Caribbean island rolling back its initial plan to reopen for tourism. Due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas and the continued increase of coronavirus in the United States, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on July 19 all international commercial flights and boats carrying passengers from the U.S. will be banned. 

“Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy,” Minnis said in a national address. “It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.”

As of July 20, there have been 153 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11 resulting deaths in the Bahamas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Minnis said 49 of those cases occurred since the Bahamas reopened its borders to all international commercial travel on July 1, 2020.

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Starting July 22, only commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union will be allowed into the country. While commercial flights carrying passengers from the United States are no longer permitted, travelers from the U.S. can still enter via private and charter flights—as well as private yachts—after July 22. The Bahamas government says it will allow this since private planes and boats bring in smaller numbers of passengers and present less of a risk of spreading COVID-19 to Bahamians.

Here’s what we know so far about traveling to the Bahamas.

These Caribbean Islands Are Reopening for Tourism This Summer

What kind of safety protocols are being put in place in the Bahamas?

Travelers on commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the EU, along with those entering from the United States on private jets or yachts, will still need to follow specific health protocols before departing to the Bahamas. 

All incoming travelers are required to upload a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 10 days before departing, as part of a required Electronic Health Visa application. Those who do not upload negative PCR test results to their health visa applications will be denied entry into the Bahamas. Children under the age of 10 are not required to take a test, but still need to fill out a health visa application.

What commercial airlines are flying to the Bahamas?

Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, United, and all other U.S. airlines will no longer be allowed to fly to the Bahamas due to the most recent travel ban on U.S. commercial flights. The national airline of the Bahamas, Bahamasair, has also ceased outgoing flights to the United States. Only outgoing flights will be permitted after July 22, in order to bring any current visitors in the Bahamas back to the United States. Air Canada will continue flights from Toronto into Nassau, Bahamas, in July. In Google Flights, it appears that British Airways won’t resume its route to Nassau until September 1.

What else is open in the Bahamas?

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Together with the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee, a group of partners from the public and private sectors, the tourism ministry has continued to enforce new health and safety protocols at airports, seaports, hotels, and restaurants that began earlier this summer when local tourism started up again.

Taxis and buses are operational, but passengers are limited and required to wear face masks. Restaurants are also open, but buffets will be discontinued and staff must wear face masks and gloves.

Hotels and vacation rentals including Airbnb and HomeAway are also allowed to welcome guests, but a curfew requires all travelers to remain on the property between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. each day. The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort has remained open to guests, but Baha Mar has decided to postpone its reopening to October 2020, and Atlantis is closed until further notice.

During their time in the Bahamas, all international travelers are being asked by the government to practice social-distancing measures and are required to wear face masks while transiting through airports and in public everywhere except on the beach, where gatherings are limited to five people. Any visitors or residents found not wearing face masks in required areas will be subject to a $200 fine or a month imprisonment.

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