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Minister’S Go-Ahead Over ‘Vaccine Passport’ Study

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

• Tourism to ‘explore’ if makes travel easier

• Bahamas now ‘in groove’ on Health Visa

• But 2019 numbers to only return 2023/2024

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The government is “exploring” whether to adopt so-called COVID-19 “vaccine passports” in a bid to make two-way travel involving The Bahamas easier, a Cabinet minister revealed yesterday.

Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, told Tribune Business he has asked officials to study whether this nation should follow other countries in developing documents and protocols that would enable tourists and Bahamians to prove they have been vaccinated against the potentially fatal virus.

Such a regime, if adopted, could facilitate the free flow of travel to and from The Bahamas by both locals and residents once global vaccination programmes achieve critical mass - a development that appears to be some months off yet. “Vaccine passports” showing a person has been inoculated could also dramatically reduce the need for pre-arrival and in-country COVID-19 testing.

The Tribune has for some months called for the creation of a “vaccine passport” regime, and Mr D’Aguilar confirmed to this newspaper yesterday: “I’ve just requested the Ministry of Tourism to explore that., explore what it’s all about and see whether we want to embrace that and morph into that proposed travel protocol.

“I’m having the technical people at the Ministry of Tourism review that, and see what the pros and cons are. It seems to be getting some traction in Europe and the Asian side, but I’m not sure it’s getting so much traction this side” of the Atlantic.

“I’ve read about it, seen it and want my technical team to see if it’s something we want to embrace, follow and be part of,” Mr D’Aguilar continued. “We’re looking at every possible way to facilitate travel and tourism to The Bahamas once we get on the other side of this pandemic.

“We have to study it, look at the advantages and disadvantages. If a number of countries are entertaining it, why? What do they find attractive about it? We will see if it’s something we want to embrace and work with. We are definitely looking at it, studying it, though our Bahamas Health Travel Visa is working quite well.

“We’ve settled into a groove, but it’s an impediment to travel and I continue to emphasise that all impediments to travel are not good.” Mr D’Aguilar’s comments came just days after the UK said it was looking at the feasibility of developing a “vaccine passport” scheme that would enable its citizens to prove they have been inoculated against COVID-19 when arriving at other countries’ borders.

UK media reports said the move was in response to other countries requiring that foreign nationals show they have been vaccinated before entry is granted. Greece, a holiday destination that shares sun, sand and sea characteristics with The Bahamas, was among the countries said to be willing to admit tourists if they have can prove vaccination.

Denmark and Sweden are said to already be working on plans for some form of digital certification for COVID-19 vaccination, while discussions were also under way about a European Union (EU) wide certification scheme.

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, backed the idea in January of using certificates to identify people who have had COVID-19 vaccinations, but added: “Whether that gives a priority or access to certain goods, this is a political and legal decision that has to be discussed on the European level.”

Such “vaccine passports” could ultimately enable The Bahamas to scale down its present Bahamas Health Travel Visa regime, as well as the need for visitors to provide negative COVID-19 PCR results taken within five days of travel to this nation and be tested again after staying here for four-plus nights, once vaccination drives reach sufficient scale in key source markets such as the US.

Mr D’Aguilar, meanwhile, said The Bahamas’ present defences seemed to be operating well despite the travel impediments and hurdles that result as “very little COVID-19 is coming in from overseas” based on present infection rates locally.

“From a mechanics standpoint it’s working very well,” he added, suggesting Bahamas Health Travel Visa applications are being approved in as little as six hours if submissions are minimal. If the application volume is heavier, the minister suggested processing time could take up to “a day or so”.

“It’s a function of quantity, which is very light right now sadly,” Mr D’Aguilar told Tribune Business, revealing that confirmation of no mandatory quarantine for US travellers returning home has failed to produce an appreciable uptick in tourist numbers to-date.

While January numbers have yet to be finalised, he said: “President Biden’s comments certainly threw a curve ball, put a wrench in the works, so the numbers are still a sliver of their former selves. A lot of people heard about the quarantine, but not a lot heard it has been done away with.”

A briefing given by Ian Brownlee, the US State Department’s acting assistant secretary for consular affairs, and Marty Cetron, the CDC’s director for global migration and quarantine, recently confirmed that a quarantine for incoming and returning travellers will not be made mandatory at the federal level.

In response to questions on the issue, a transcript quoted Mr Brownlee as saying: “We’re not at this time issuing federal quarantine orders, but we do have - and have had - up on the CDC website guidance regarding the ways to increase the safety of international travel......

“Staying home for a period of time, seven days if you have a negative post-arrival test taken between day three and five, as is recommended on our website, allows the quarantine period to be shortened.

“Most of this return recommendation really falls in the jurisdiction of state and local authorities, and each, the state and local authorities, may have their own specific advice, but the CDC’s standard advice on this can be found on our website. So these are recommendations from CDC.”

Mr D’Aguilar, meanwhile, said “the general consensus” was that 2019’s tourism numbers will only return in 2023 or 2024 - a forecast that was recently given by Central Bank governor, John Rolle. “Everybody is adjusting now, seeing how things are going,” he added.

“The second half of this year will be considerably better than the second half of last year, but we just have to see how it shakes out.”

Comments

bahamianson 2 months, 1 week ago

now , the picture is revealed. This was it all along. there is a bigger picture to all of this, way bigger picture.

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 1 week ago

😁😁😂😂🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

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bahamianson 2 months, 1 week ago

donald trump said," they don't want me , they want you. I am just in their way". How true he was, but all people can see, is trump.

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 1 week ago

Nah. They just wanted to get rid of the worst potus in all of history.

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wbishop 2 months, 1 week ago

So what happens to the 65+ population who are not eligible for the vaccine?

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tribanon 2 months, 1 week ago

For decades now the world's superwealthy oligarchs have been discussing at their annual meetings in places like Davos, Switzerland and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, how they can best go about achieving a New World Order in which they are able to control and limit the movement of people among other similar sinister things. And these evil elitist oligarchs are hell bent on beating the rest of us into the ground if that's what it takes for them to gain the upper hand over all of us.

The super rich elitist oligarchs have been persistently partnering with governments around the world to strip us of our most basic fundamental rights and liberties. They are doing this to demean and demoralize us. Just look at how much we have already lost and the burdens we must now endure daily as they continue with their program of systematically beating us into submission.

We no longer have financial and health privacy rights of any kind, our property rights are under seige, our voices are being silenced, our mobility is being severely restrained, and now governments in partnership with the very greedy big pharma and bio engineering researchers are attempting to dictate what medications and vaccines we have to take and how often. Personal choice is being severely threatened on every front and we've been dumbed down to point where we are giving into rather than fighting their dastardly motives. Something must give here, and it ain't gunna be pretty when it does!

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 1 week ago

Lololololol!!!!!

Quick! Get the tin foil hat!!!!

Lololol!!!

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milesair 2 months, 1 week ago

You said it! For some people life is one big conspiracy theory! But than, this guy loved Trump which at least partially explains it!

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 1 week ago

We need a scientific study on what makes a trumpie. Cause damn! Something aint right in their heads....

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tribanon 2 months ago

Like they say, nothing is more blissful than D- ignorance. LOL

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TalRussell 2 months, 1 week ago

Not much debate there is more than just a few signs points to the disappointment in Comrade Dioniso James, once thought to be a top contender occupy the office of the colony's prime minister.
Shockin there is nothing more required than when such a man would be championing for the legitimacy, callin' for the markin of the PopoulacesOrdinay at large POAL.
They must carry a passport on their POAL bodies at all times is somethin' they do in other countries, ruled by ruthless leaders.
At what stage will a put a stop to such authoritarian rule of governance?

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 1 week ago

The conspiracy theorists go crazy! Lolololol!!!

First things first. The Astrazeneca vaccine is not effective against the South African variant, it also may not be viable for the elderly. The Pfizer vaccine has to be shipped and stored at 100 below zero.

So what is the plan now? Which vaccine will we be getting? No sense in taking the Astrazeneca and we cannot manage the Pfizer one.

So what is the plan now?

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tribanon 2 months ago

Don't you worry....Minnis is going to make sure his lowly plebes soon get two or more jabs of something even if it means they may find lots of hair growing on the bottom of their feet in a few years time. lol

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birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

Anyone over 65 will have to stay PUT. They will not receive the VACCine. That is a Bahamian Policy..

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 1 week ago

Also a French policy. And now that we know the Oxford vaccine is ineffective against the SA variant time for our government to look at the other vaccines... I want to be vaccinated as soon as possible but I also want to protected against all the variants. No Oxford vaccine for me...

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lovingbahamas 2 months ago

Prepare for the bait and switch to the Chinese vaccine. It’s on the dark horizon!

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avidreader 2 months, 1 week ago

Convert some of those borrowed dollars to rubles and try the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. After all Sputnik means traveler and was the name given to their artificial satellite launched into earth orbit on October 4, 1957.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

"The Tribune has for some months called for the creation of a “vaccine passport” regime,"

Well Renward Wells out here pretending like they come up with the idea. They say they come up with the idea to ask people to be tested on entry too.

I coukd be wring buy I'm almost certain DAguilar was pushing for as little regulations as possible anything to impede the tourist dollar

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tribanon 2 months ago

A hot cup of Cerasee tea served to tourists on arrival and again at departure is really all that was ever needed to protect both them and us from that Red China Virus.

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John 2 months ago

By the end of March and definitely by summer, this Covid-19 virus will have dried up and disappeared. The cruise ships do not plan to return before summer, but I miss some crab legs from Red Lobster.

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