The Bahamas is reopening once again for Phase 3 of general tourism on October 15th, but this time they have implemented new rules that will hopefully keep it open throughout the busy holiday season.
The Bahamas has given us all whiplash by having the most controversial and confusing reopening in all of the Caribbean. Here’s what’s happened so far:
Timeline of the Bahamas Reopening –
July 1- The Bahamas reopened for tourism, welcoming all countries to enter with a PCR test.
July 19 – Flights from the USA banned due to a surge in cases.
July 24 – Many areas of the Bahamas went back into lockdown. Stiff 14-day quarantines in government facilities were put on any traveler arriving into the country, which also included wearing a monitoring device.
August 3 – American tourists permitted once again. The Bahamas relaxed the quarantine in a government facility requirement and started letting travelers complete quarantine in a hotel or rental.
September 7 – The government released their new ‘VIP’ vacation-in-place rules to give more clarity and freedom within the walls of their hotel property for the duration of their vacation (see more below)
Currently, the Bahamas is open for tourism, but since the lockdowns in July, flights have been extremely limited, and tourists have been hesitant to book their trip.
Starting on October 15th, the government of the Bahamas plans to reopen all major hotels and resorts, including beaches, and resume more frequent flights, even from the USA.
The new ‘VIP’ entry rules stand for ‘Vacation in Place’, which is a clever way for the Bahamas to pitch a 14-day quarantine as a luxury experience.
The rules basically state that you fly into the Bahamas, you are taken directly to your hotel, and you will stay there for a full 14 days, or the entire length of your trip if shorter. Once on the property, guests can enjoy the pool, beach, spa, gym, restaurant, and all other amenities, making it feel less like a quarantine and more like a true vacation.
Minister of Tourism, Dionisio D’Aguilar, stated today in a press conference:
“What we envision is that when a person goes on to a hotel property they will be allowed to use all the facilities in that hotel and be allowed to move freely within that property Everyone coming onto that property would have received a COVID test prior to arrival. We are encouraging the staff to be tested as well. It will be a safe bubble where guests would be allowed to move around the property.”
The VIP program also includes vacationing-in-place at an AirBnB or a private boat/yacht as long as the traveler does not leave the property and can have things like food delivered.
If all goes well with the launch of the ‘14-Day VIP’ program, the Bahamas will look to also reopen attractions, tours and excursions on November 1st, albeit with strict ‘bubble’ rules.
Other Entry Rules
There are some other entry rules that tourists should know about that are in effect now and are planned to still be in effect on October 15th for Phase 3 of the reopening.
Tourists from all nations are welcome, so long as they abide by all testing and quarantine requirements.
All travelers must bring a negative PCR test, taken no longer than 5 days prior to arrival, fill out and obtain approval on the online Bahamas Health Visa, and wear face masks in all public spaces.
Here are some flights to the Bahamas from popular markets that have already resumed, or are soon scheduled to return.
In October, direct flights are planned from: Toronto, Montreal, New York, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, London, Kingston.
In November, more cities will add direct flights, like: Calgary, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Dallas, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and more Caribbean nations.
Will Bahamas ‘VIP’ Travel Rules Take Off?
Eager tourists have to be willing to trade freedom of movement in exchange for a tropical vacation, at least in the case of traveling to the Bahamas. It’s unknown if the mandatory 14-day vacation-in-place rules will deter travelers from choosing to the Bahamas and choose a more lenient destination, or if this is the new normal of vacationing during the pandemic.
There has been no date set yet for Phase 4 of the Bahamas reopening, which includes things like nightclubs, casinos, and the hugely anticipated cruise industry.
Disclaimer: Bahamas reopening news is ever-changing and being updated constantly. We do our best to keep this article up to date with all the latest information, but the decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.