UPDATE: Starting July 22, most US travelers are once again banned from the Bahamas
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. The original was published on July 6, 2020.
As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
As of Wednesday, July 22, the Bahamas will officially close for most U.S. travelers once again: Only U.S. travelers arriving by private planes and boats will be allowed to enter the country. All commercial arrivals by plane or ship are banned until further notice.
“Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Sunday. “It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.”
According to Minnis, the Bahamas reported 41 new cases of the virus since reopening its borders. Commercial flights and vessels from Canada, the United Kingdom, and European Union countries will still be welcome, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
In early July, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation recently unveiled a five-phase plan to reopen the country to international travelers. While the plans are tentative and subject change based on advice from health organizations, it’s a comprehensive blueprint for how the island nation plans to welcome tourists back while enforcing high safety standards.
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When will the Bahamas reopen?
The Bahamas implemented an international travel ban on March 24, 2020 which was lifted on July 1 when it officially reopened to tourists. However, the previous open policy now extends only to travelers holding passports from Canada, the United Kingdom and European Union.
Which hotels are reopening?
A few properties in Nassau will be welcoming guests on July 1. These include the Baha Mar, Sandals Royal Bahamian, Atlantis Paradise Island, the Melia Nassau Beach-All Inclusive and The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort.
All of these resorts have flexible cancellation policies, so you can book with peace of mind, knowing you’ll receive a full refund if reopening plans don’t proceed as planned.
Nassau Paradise Island let TPG know they are also now open. Among the hotels reopening soon is the famous Atlantis, Paradise Island.We found rates beginning at $229 a night in August. It is accepting reservations beginning August 1.
Related: U.S. Virgin Islands reopening
What to expect on arrival
All incoming travelers allowed in the country will be subject to temperature checks at airports and seaports. Social distancing will also be enforced and you must wear a mask in the terminal, during security checks, customer screenings and baggage claim.
You’ll need to keep your mask on during the ride to your hotel and you may notice fewer passengers in the shuttle van. Both shuttle and taxi drivers have been mandated to cut passenger capacity by 50%, in accordance with social distancing guidelines. You also won’t be able to sit in the passenger seat of taxis or shuttle vans.
Hotels will be distributing hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to guests, elevator capacity will be limited and “unnecessary literature’ in guest rooms will be removed. In other words, fewer magazines and less clutter all around. Unfortunately, buffets will not reopen for the time being and all meals will be single or prepackaged.
Meanwhile, employees will be subject to frequent temperature checks and restaurant staff will be required to wear masks and gloves.
The great news is that guests traveling to the Bahamas will be able to leave their resorts to go on excursions and shopping trips – with some precautions. In order to adhere to social distancing rules, there will be limits on the number of customers allowed in stores and touching of merchandise is highly discouraged unless you’re ready to purchase.
When it comes to excursions, travelers are encouraged to bring their own gear while tour operators will be required to cut capacity clean everything on a set schedule.
With both Southwest and American Airlines resumed flights to Nassau in early July, but that will now be ending
Normally, there are plenty of options to get there. As of now, award availability on American Airlines is fairly restricted, while Southwest isn’t displaying flights at all.
Your best bet, if you want to secure airfare in advance, is a paid fare. A Google Flight search turned up plenty of $370 round-trip basic economy fares between New York (LGA) and Nassau. Some of these are multi-carrier fares that must be booked separately, though Delta does offer similar fares transiting Atlanta.
If you absolutely want to redeem points for these flights, consider charging it to the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which requires 37,000 miles. The card earns 2x miles per $1 spent and currently has a limited time offer of 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening. Or still earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
If you have a stash of Ultimate Rewards points you want to put to use, you can book these fares through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, for around 29,000 points.
The Bahamas were among a short list of countries announcing planning to reopen this summer.
Now it looks like this Caribbean destination is off the table.
Whether you should travel right now is a personal decision. We advise our readers to heed the advice of health organizations to determine whether it is in fact safe to travel again.
Featured photo by Pola Damonte via Getty Images/Getty Images.
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