Bahamas abandons plans for tougher pre-arrival testing

Jan 9, 2022

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The Bahamas is backing off its plans to implement tougher testing requirements for visitors. The island nation updated its entry protocols for tourists this week and announced it was walking back its planned mandate to only accept negative pre-departure PCR tests from vaccinated travelers.

“The Bahamas has suspended the mandatory RT-PCR testing requirement for vaccinated travelers, which was expected to take effect on January 7, 2022,” tourism officials said in an official statement. “Vaccinated persons, as well as children ages 2-11, may continue to present either a negative rapid antigen test or negative RT-PCR test.”

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(Photo by Henrik Landfors/Getty Images)

The decision comes at a time when positive COVID-19 cases related to the omicron variant are spiking across the country. Less than two weeks after it had lowered the risk warning for the Bahamas, the CDC raised it back to Level 3: High Level of COVID-19. Under Level 3, the agency advises tourists to be “fully vaccinated before traveling to the Bahamas,” and warns those who are not vaccinated to avoid non-essential travel to the islands.

Related: CDC issues new COVID-19 warnings for several Caribbean nations

Bahamian officials also updated testing requirements after you enter the country. All visitors staying longer than 48 hours must take a rapid antigen test, regardless of vaccination status. Previously, only tourists staying longer than four nights and five days had to take another test. You can find a list of approved testing sites on the islands here.

Other updates to the Bahamas’ entry requirements include:

  • Everyone traveling to the islands, fully vaccinated or not, must obtain a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days (72 hours) prior to the date of arrival in The Bahamas. It used to be within five days. Travelers must upload the negative test results when applying for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa.
  • Vaccinated travelers and all children between the ages of 2-11, can present either a negative rapid antigen test or RT-PCR Test.
  • Unvaccinated travelers ages 12 and older must present a negative RT-PCR Test (acceptable tests include NAAT, PCR, RNA, RT-PCR and TMA).
  • All children younger than two years old are exempt from testing requirements.

Read about TPG reporter Zach Griff’s trip to the Bahamas here including his stay at The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons resort on Paradise Island.

Featured image by Sylvain Sonnet/Getty Images

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