Bahamas takes Cautious Approach to US Travel Advisories on COVID-19

CNW Reporter

The Bahamas government has stopped short of leveling criticisms at the United States over its recent decision to impose travel restrictions and placing the country, and other Caribbean nations, on a list of high-risk countries to be avoided by its nationals because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, the Bahamian 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 traveling 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 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 Bahamas, which has recorded 898 positive cases and 15 deaths from the virus, ranks 152 in the world, while the United States leads the world in cases and deaths with (as of August 12) 5.17 million positive cases and 165,000 deaths.

Over the last weekend, a U.S. State Department official said the placement of CARICOM countries on a level 3 or high-risk for COVID-19 under the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) ranking is actually a downgrading of the Center’s travel advisory.

“Most of the countries in the world 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 U.S. 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 travelers 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, with the Barbados-based U.S. Embassy providing some clarity on the advisory which was published on the CDC website on August 6.

“The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented risks for travelers. Given current global conditions, most countries around the world are currently 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.

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