Hoteliers Fear ‘Drastic’ Us Quarantine Effect

Matthew Brear, Cape Santa Maria’s general manager, told Tribune Business that the move represents a “step in the right direction for the US, but for tourism in The Bahamas it will be a problem”.

“It will be devastating for The Bahamas if that is, in fact, what they decide to do. It isn’t confirmed. But I certainly wouldn’t blame the Americans for doing it. They have a big problem on their hands.”

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order last week Thursday, mandating all incoming travellers to the US, inclusive of returning Americans, to quarantine upon arrival in addition to having a negative COVID-19 test.

Mr Brear said Canada has been quarantining all incoming travellers for months, adding: “For the Americans it’s too little, too late, but they have to do what they have to do. Unfortunately for the Bahamians, it’s going to be a challenge for our industry. But we are resilient.”

Muna Issa, SuperClubs Breezes managing director, said: “Most definitely the new quarantine requirement will affect us drastically. Business is very slow now, and we suspect this will make it even slower.

“We really didn’t think things could get any slower; we had hoped with the vaccine things would start getting better not worse.” Ms Issa said it was “too early to tell” if future bookings will be affected by the US move.

Mr Brear, though, said he was confident that The Bahamas can overcome this latest travel obstacle without any long lasting damage. He said that because The Bahamas has done well in managing COVID-19, the country will hopefully be exempted from any quarantine policy for incoming US travellers.

“With our control of the coronavirus, maybe there will be an option for the American government to allow Americans returning from The Bahamas to not quarantine, or to have a protocol in place specific to places or destinations that have some control over their coronavirus issue.”

He voiced concerns, though, about the weakness of the COVID-19 testing regime on Long Island, where there are currently no provisions to test persons who stay less than five days. While The Bahamas’ protocols require visitors to be tested if they stay longer than four nights, Mr Brear said there was nothing to help short-stay visitors meet US testing requirements.

As of tomorrow, all international travellers returning to the US must produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of their trip. However, Mr Brear said persons staying less than five days have been told there are no facilities to help them when they are sent to Long Island’s clinics for the test.

Carl Rolle, owner/operator of Rollez Villas on Cat Island, said: “We can’t be happy with it, but the US has to protect their own interests, just like The Bahamas decided to protect ourselves.

“We will remain here and we are determined that we’re going to be here when things normalise. We are going to use this as an example to strengthen ourselves. So when persons start to come back to Rollez Villas they will see a more beautiful and spectacular place.”

Youri Kemp
The Tribune
Published: January 25, 2021

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