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Editorial: Quarantine Rule Is A Disaster For The Bahamas

DEVASTATING. That’s the word Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar uses to describe the introduction of a quarantine requirement for people arriving in the United States.

“In light of the new COVID variants that you’re learning about, we’re instituting now a new measure for individuals flying into the United States from other countries,” said President Biden yesterday. “In addition to wearing masks, everyone flying to the United States from another country will need to test before they get on that plane, before they depart, and quarantine when they arrive in America.”

The details of the policy and when it will be introduced have yet to be clarified, but it’s a hammer blow to hopes of restarting tourism. How many people are going to come to The Bahamas if they face a compulsory quarantine when they fly back to the United States?

It’s the worst possible news for tourism in our country.

There are reasons for the US clampdown, of course. It’s the sign of a new administration looking to turn things around after a previous administration that let things slide and presided over more than 400,000 deaths.

It is the internal spread of the virus that the US is currently wrestling with. In Los Angeles, things were so bad that air quality limits had to be lifted because of the number of cremations for COVID-19 victims.

There may be reasons, but that doesn’t help us as we look to rebuild after living up to our end of the effort to curtail COVID. Despite our efforts, the US lists us with a Level 4 CDC Travel Notice, putting us in the higher risk categories for travelling from.

Mr D’Aguilar wants the US to give the English-speaking Caribbean countries a pass when it comes to the new rules – but there’s far from any guarantee that will happen.

Instead, we face the prospect of hotels reassessing whether they should keep their doors open if tourism is about to fall off a cliff again, and the possibility of more staff on furlough as we wait for the US to deal with its own COVID downfalls.

The damage to our economy, already seemingly incalculable, is going to keep going on, a price paid in jobs and livelihoods and businesses closing their doors for good.

Amid it all is a glimmer of a solution – and it’s those PCR tests and the next evolution of testing for COVID being tested around the world by Prenetics - something our own government seems stubbornly reluctant to embrace.

With a strong testing regime in place, there is far less likelihood of a traveller moving with the virus than people catching it within their communities. These US rules are as much about stopping variants of the virus, such as the one ravaging the UK right now, as the original virus itself. We, thankfully, have not seen any sign of that new virus yet as far as we can tell. Why? Well, that testing requirement might be part of it.

If the testing is enough to do the job, then the quarantine might be unneeded. That’s what we need to drive home to the US, then live up to our end of the deal here.

To do that, we have some distance to go. The failure to test around half of visitors with the five-day test does nothing to show our discipline, and we need to fix that, not shrug it off as Health Minister Renward Wells has so far.

Make no mistake, this is a huge blow for our tourism industry. The US has a long way to go to fight back against COVID. We have to show to the best of our ability that we are not part of the problem, but that our experience can be part of the solution.

Comments

GodSpeed 1 month ago

Better start learning how to grow your own food.

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rodentos 1 month ago

better start learning to do something else than trying to rip off american tourists...

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John 1 month ago

The local media failed to mention that the nee president, Joe Biden, signed an executive order to raise minimum wage for all government workers and contractors to $15.00 an hour. Of course this will affect this country as many Bahamians will try move to the US in hopes of finding a better standard of living. They may not be able to work for the US government, but they will be able to find jobs vacated by persons leaving to go work for the government for the better wages. This will also create a more active immigration problem as persons from the Southern countries ( yes especially Haiti) will attempt to sojourn to the US also seeking better opportunities. Should our immigration request more assistance from the US or just give those immigrants who are just passing thru some food, fresh water and a map?

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ColumbusPillow 1 month ago

This will discourage visitors coming for SHORT VISITS (less than a week). We just spent 2 wonderful months on Long island and had PCR tests going and coming + 2 week quarantine in that hellhole called Canada. It was worth the bother.

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canuck 1 month ago

Couldn't agree more. Not sure i would describe Canada as a hell hole but spending extended time on Long Island is worth the effort.

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truetruebahamian 1 month ago

Testing prior to travel is what we do. It is inconvenient - but there it is. As far as quarantines go they are not mandated, they are merely reccomended by the CDC. Federal government cannot mandate states to quarantine just as they cannot mandate a mask law. Just don't involve yourself in risky situations when away - them to here or here to there and the only thing will be the rapid antigen test the travel visa and showing that to the carrier.

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tribanon 1 month ago

The only thing more devastating is grossly incompetent D'Aguilar's appalling performance as minister of tourism.

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

When will our Government get the memo that tourism dependency is BAD for us?????

It's been 75 years of this Sands model, and we are $12 Billion debt ....... No panacea

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tribanon 1 month ago

We are $12 billion in debt because of 40+ years of government corruption involving shady Bahamians and shady foreign investors alike.

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FrustratedBusinessman 1 month ago

What else are we going to do? An opportunity to develop another industry may happen in the future, but it is not going to ever fully replace tourism. The Sands model called for a two pillar economy based off of tourism and offshore banking. Needless to say, offshore banking died a long time ago. We haven't been on the true Sands model for a while.

$12 billion in debt didn't come from the model, the UBP had budget surpluses when they left power. $12 billion in debt came from the corrupt behaviour of our money loving politicians that we have had since Independence. Easy for them to line their pockets until nothing is left in the Treasury. The chickens of the past 5 decades are finally coming home to roost for the Bahamas.

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moncurcool 1 month ago

It is not the Sand model that placed us in debt. Sadly, it is our so called majority ruler leaders who placed us there.

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

I "hear" and read your comments above .......... but 85% of our tourists come via cruise ships that now have exclusive party islands and put very little into our economy (directly) ......... I agree that 2020 tourism is not 1950 tourism, but the idea of putting the "eggs" in 1 or 2 baskets still remains a serious issue of national concern to grapple with - if we are going to create a more secure & growing economy for true national development. (my 2 cents)

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rodentos 1 month ago

NO EXTRA RULES for Bahamians!

All world should stick to rules imposed by countries trying to control covid.

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