Health visa requirements prone to remain in place for visitors
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The prevailing health travel visa, which began under the previous administration, will undergo a regime change on October 1, in keeping with Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis.
The newly elected prime minister advised that the intention is for Bahamians to travel freely without cost while a fee for visitors stays.
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in June promised to finish the travel health visa requirements for Bahamians and visitors if elected.
Davis previously called the travel health visa, which was rolled out in November 2020, a “burdensome, unnecessary tax on Bahamians at a time of widespread economic pain”.
On Friday, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville announced several amendments to the Bahamas travel health visa, notably that it isn’t any longer required for inter-island travel and visa fees for all returning Bahamian residents and residents have been removed.
But there have been reports that applicants of the health travel visa were still being requested to pay over the weekend.
To this, Davis said: “We understand that there must be some technical adjustments to the online process to enable us to attain the target which we got down to do and we hope to give you the chance to have that every one sorted by the 1st of October, at which period you perhaps will see an entire, new regime as well.”
When asked if this signaled a taking away the health travel visa requirement, Davis said: “We’re taking away the costing. We’re taking away travel visas for Bahamians. That’s my objective, but it is going to probably remain in place for the visitors.”
The travel health visa was placed under the highlight earlier this yr amid assertions that the Minnis administration awarded the contract for this system based on political affiliation — an accusation that the previous administration and online payment retailer Kanoo have rejected.
Eventually report, the travel health visa collected around $10 million, of which 82 percent derived from visitors, with $2.4 million in surplus after expenses.
Because it pertains to travel, fully vaccinated individuals and kids ages two through 11 traveling to The Bahamas must still obtain a negative COVID-19 test — RT-PCR or rapid antigen — inside five days of arriving.
Prior to August 6, fully vaccinated individuals were exempted from the COVID testing requirement, but the previous administration amended the emergency orders amid concerns about more contagious COVID strains reminiscent of the delta variant, which has been confirmed because the predominant variant in The Bahamas.