NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Fully vaccinated people and children aged 2 to 11 traveling to the Bahamas must now get a COVID-19 RT-PCR test or negative rapid test within five days of arrival, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (OPM).
The new policy will take effect on August 6, reversing the travel regime put in place in May that saw fully vaccinated people exempt from testing requirements when entering the Bahamas or traveling within the country.
According to the OPM, unvaccinated travelers aged 12 and older should always get a negative RT-PCR test within five days of travel.
For domestic travel, those fully vaccinated will also be required to present a rapid COVID or RT-PCR negative test within five days of travel from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Bimini, Exuma, Abaco and North and South Eleuthera.
Children between the ages of 2 and 12 must also comply with this testing requirement.
However, children under the age of two remain exempt from any testing.
Additionally, travel health visa fees will be waived for all Bahamians and residents for domestic travel.
When Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis previously announced the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers, including exemption from RT-PCR testing, President of the Association of Medical Consultants, Dr Sabriquet Pinder-Butler, urged the government to reconsider its decision.
She recommended that testing remain a requirement for travel and renewed the call as cases have increased in recent months.
She also suggested that the government consider incorporating rapid antigen testing into the travel protocol and subsidizing PCR testing or working with labs to cut costs.
Despite concerns about the removal of testing restrictions for fully vaccinated people, health officials at the time said the issue of transmission after vaccination was still under consideration by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. COVID-19 vaccines.
Since then, cases have gone from low digits to double digits to three digits.
A total of 334 cases were recorded over the weekend: 162 on Friday, 81 on Saturday and 91 on Sunday.
The Bahamas surpassed 15,000 COVID-19 cases yesterday and saw hospitalizations soar to 102.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that “new science” indicates that vaccinated people can spread the delta variant of COVID-19 in some cases, and recommended that fully vaccinated people start over. wear masks in indoor public places in certain areas.