International

Tourism Minister Says U.S. COVID-19 Travel Restrictions ‘Simply Devastating’ For Bahamas

Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism and Aviation, warned that the new U.S. quarantine requirements are “simply devastating” for the Bahamian tourism industry’s rebound, adding: “This keeps us on the edge that much longer.”

D’Aguilar told The Tribune, one of The Bahamas’ leading newspapers, that President Joe Biden’s executive order on COVID-19 restrictions relating to international travel are yet another “significant deterrent” that will hit every aspect of The Bahamas tourism sector.

In a bid to contain skyrocketing U.S. infection rates that have resulted in 24.5 million COVID-19 cases and 414,229 total deaths as of Jan. 22, President Biden has implemented a policy that requires all returning American citizens and foreign travelers to “comply” with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that include “recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation.”

These guidelines, according to the CDC’s website, include getting tested for COVID-19 within three to five days after arriving back in the U.S. from “higher risk activities” during international travel. They advise persons to “stay home” for seven days after travel, even if they test negative for the virus, while those who elected not to have the test are told to stay home for 10 days after returning.

D’Aguilar said “higher risk” international travel was defined as coming from countries that presently have a ‘Level 2’, ‘Level 3’ or ‘Level 4’ Health Travel Notice from the CDC. The Bahamas is presently in ‘Level 4’ and, while the minister argued that this risk rating should be much lower due to the decline in COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas, the country falls squarely within the new quarantine measures.

“It’s devastating. It’s simply devastating,” D’Aguilar told The Tribune. “This is a significant deterrent to travel…This is potentially economically devastating. COVID-19 took us to the edge, and this will keep us on the edge that much longer.”

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