Bahamas reverses course, reopens to Americans with 14-day quarantine, negative COVID-19 test, other restrictions

After barring Americans from entry earlier this month as COVID-19 cases resurged, the Bahamas is once again welcoming travelers from the United States.

But for those ready to finally get back to the popular vacation destination, you may want to hold your excitement. The reopening likely won't benefit the average American traveler looking to explore the islands because all travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or face deportation.

According to an update posted to the official Bahamas' website Friday, all visitors and returning residents have the option to spend their two-week quarantine in a private residence or rented accommodation, such as an Airbnb, where it's possible to isolate in a bedroom with a connected bathroom. Travelers can also quarantine in a hotel room with a connected bathroom or on a private boat.

After barring Americans from entry on July 19 due to the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bahamas is once again welcoming travelers from the United States.
After barring Americans from entry on July 19 due to the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bahamas is once again welcoming travelers from the United States.

But there's a silver lining for travelers quarantining at hotels. Because all hotels are designated as quarantine sites, guests will be able to use the hotel's facilities, though casinos and nightclubs will be closed.

If travelers don't have access to the approved quarantine locations, then they'll have to spend two weeks in a government-mandated quarantine facility, at their own expense.

In addition to the mandatory quarantine period, travelers must also apply for a Bahamas health visa and have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited lab that was taken within 10 days. Children under the age of 10 and pilots and crew who stay overnight in the Bahamas need not provide a negative COVID-19 test.

Travelers will need to register where they intend to quarantine with the Ministry of Health for approval and also download an app on their phones to assist with contact tracing. Refusing to download the app is another deportable offense.

After the 14-day quarantine, travelers will need to test negative on another COVID-19 test in order to leave quarantine. People who want to leave the country before the quarantine period ends can do so any time, without taking a COVID-19 test.

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Once travelers are able to leave their quarantines, they'll find beaches open, other than during weekend lockdowns when everyone except essential workers must stay inside. However, all beaches in Nassau and Grand Bahama are closed.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis implemented weekend lockdowns, in addition to a daily curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., on July 25 as part of an emergency order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Lockdowns will be removed on an island-by-island basis according to health indicators.

USA TODAY has reached out to Bahamas tourism representatives for more details.

After announcing that it would reopen to tourists starting July 1, Minnis said in a national address July 19 that Americans would not be allowed to enter the Bahamas.

The situation has deteriorated "at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders," Minnis said.

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Contributing: Bryan Alexander

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bahamas reopens to American travelers with strict COVID-19 protocol