By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
THE Bahamas has been left off the list of countries whose residents are allowed to travel to the European Union when the bloc opens its borders to international travel today.
Due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States, America has also been left off the list of 15 travel partners allowed entry. It is unclear why The Bahamas, which was not recorded a new case in more than 14 days and has only had a handful of active cases, has been left off the list, however the EU said the recommendations would be reviewed every two weeks.
Meanwhile, six flights from the US are set to arrive in The Bahamas today when international travel resumes. There are several outbound flights as well.
Coordinator of the COVID-19 task force Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis was asked about the EU not allowing US travellers while this country will welcome visitors from that country. She deferred questions to the Office of the Prime Minister, but did say the situation is being monitored.
“I think you should speak with OPM as that’s where the final decisions come from,” she responded. “But we will be monitoring the situation very carefully and have put in place indicators to determine what is the risk of letting people in.”
The first flights expected into Lynden Pindling International Airport will come from New York, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Canada. Florida alone has 146,341 confirmed cases with 14,354 people hospitalised.
USA Today reported that travellers from 15 countries will be welcomed to the EU, including Canada, South Korea and Australia but not the United States.
“Americans will not be allowed to travel to European Union countries when the bloc opens up to international visitors July 1, the European Council announced Tuesday,” the news source reported.
“But those from the US and many other nations will be barred as too risky because of spiking coronavirus cases in their home countries. Chinese travelers will be allowed to visit if that country’s government confirms a policy of reciprocity, the council’s announcement said.”
According to John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre’s’s data, the United States leads the world in the number of coronavirus cases with nearly 2.7 million infections as of June 30.
Dr Dahl-Regis said passengers will be monitored carefully and The Bahamas will have to hope for the best.
“Where we are now, we will monitor the passengers,” she continued. “We hope to identify, early, if anything like that happens and respond immediately and hope for the best.”
USA Today said the EU’s criteria “used to decide whether to lift pandemic travel restrictions were based on the epidemiological situation and containment measures in each country” including social distancing, as well as economic and social considerations.
“Tuesday’s decree will not apply to travel to Britain, which left the EU in January. Britain now requires all incoming travelers – barring a few exceptions, like truck drivers – to enter a self-imposed 14-day quarantine, although the measure is under review and is likely to ease in the coming weeks. The requirement also applies to UK citizens,” the report said.
EU officials have said the decision to ban US travellers has nothing to do with politics, but everything to do with high numbers of COVID-19 cases. The EU has said its recommendations are not legally binding and should be reviewed every two weeks. The full list of countries approved for EU travel include: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China is also on the list subject to confirmation of reciprocity.