Visitors will undergo frequent rapid testing.

By Alison Fox
October 02, 2020
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Travelers to the Bahamas will be allowed to skip the islands’ mandatory quarantine starting Nov. 1 if they continually prove they are negative for COVID-19, the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation confirmed to Travel + Leisure on Friday. 

The new protocols will allow visitors to freely roam the islands if they obtain a negative PCR test no more than seven days before traveling, and then get a rapid antigen test upon arrival and another four days after that. Travelers will also need to apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa, which includes the cost of rapid tests.

Children 10 years old and younger will not need to get tested.

“We are making changes to our travel and testing protocols in order to give our visitors a better and more seamless vacation experience,” Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar told T+L. “We want everyone to enjoy The Bahamas thoroughly and with peace of mind. These new steps will allow us to closely monitor and respond to any potential spread of the virus, while our visitors can continue to have the authentic Bahamian experience they know and love. With 16 islands to choose from, many that offer natural seclusion, we have something for everyone and look forward to welcoming travelers back to our shores.”

Before that, starting Oct. 15, visitors can “Vacation in Place” for 14 days (or less if their trip is shorter), taking advantage of the Bahamas’ pristine beaches and gorgeous surroundings from its over-the-top resort buyouts to sweet boutique hotels (and even the concept of an ultra-luxurious private island retreat). In that case, travelers will have to get a PCR test prior to arrival and remain in their hotels, but can use all the amenities and resort facilities.

In an effort to make traveling to the Caribbean islands easier, American Airlines said it would look to start a pre-flight testing program for travel to the Bahamas. That is in addition to its plans to test passengers on flights to Jamaica and Hawaii.

The Bahamas, which requires everyone to wear masks in public places, first opened its borders to private planes and yachts on June 15 followed by commercial airlines on July 1. But the islands quickly saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, causing the country's prime minister to temporarily ban visitors from the U.S. Days later, Americans were once again allowed to enter the country, but all visitors were required to quarantine for two weeks at their own expense.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.