Bahamas takes cautious approach to US travel advisories on COVID-19

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Bahamas takes cautious approach to US travel advisories on COVID-19

Monday, August 10, 2020

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NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC)— The Bahamas Government has stopped short of levelling criticisms at the United States over its decision to impose travel restrictions and placing the country on a list of high-risk countries to be avoided by its nationals because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said while it has taken note of the restrictions recently imposed by Washington “each foreign government has a duty and responsibility to protect its borders, citizens and residents".

“The Bahamas, which is going through its second wave, has also put in place travel parameters for the protection of Bahamians, residents and tourists in the country, namely, by requiring all persons travelling 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 a mandatory 14-day period of quarantine.”

The Hubert Minnis Administration said that it wanted to take the opportunity to remind Bahamian nationals and residents that it is playing its part at the global level to stem the spread of the pandemic.

“This includes working with all countries to find common strategies to fight the pandemic and treat those who have been afflicted by the virus. A concerted global effort is needed to combat and contain the pandemic.

“The government of The Bahamas believes strongly that everyone in The Bahamas has a role to play: This begins with wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, washing hands, sanitising the personal environment, and staying at home when asked to do so. It also means strict adherence to the safety measures contained in the Emergency Orders. Together, with a common understanding and approach, the COVID-19 virus will be constructively addressed,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The Bahamas has recorded 898 positive cases and 15 deaths from the virus.

Over the last weekend, a US State Department official said that the placement of countries like Grenada on a level 3 or high-risk country for COVID-19 under the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) ranking is actually a downgrading of the centre's travel advisory.

“Most of the countries in the world (not just Grenada) are listed as a level 3 or a level 4 destination. This comes after they have lifted the previous level 4 worldwide travel advisory that has been in effect since March 19, which advised US citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19,” said the State Department official, who is based in the Caribbean.

“The CDC is providing this updated travel advice in light of the risk that COVID poses and so that travellers can make informed travel decisions. Level 3 includes a wide range of countries including countries as diverse as Norway, Canada, Japan, and Zimbabwe,” the official added.

The US Embassy in Barbados provided some clarity on the advisory which was published on the CDC website on August 6.

“The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented risks for travellers. Given current global conditions, most countries around the world are currently a Level 3 or Level 4. We routinely review safety and security conditions in destinations across the world, and will update destination-specific information as appropriate,” the embassy noted.

All Caricom countries are listed in the CDC travel advisory.

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