© Photo by Eric Glenn / Shutterstock
Two Major Resorts Are About to Reopen in the Bahamas
Photo by Eric Glenn / Shutterstock The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau is reopening on December 17, 2020.
Since November 1, all international travelers have been allowed to travel to—and freely move about—the Bahamas upon arrival, as long as they follow all testing and safety protocols implemented by the government. And with the upcoming December reopenings of Baha Mar and Atlantis Paradise Island—two of the island nation’s most popular resorts—here’s what you need to know about travel in the Bahamas right now.
Is the Bahamas open for travel?
Yes: The Bahamas is open for travel and visitors can move about the country freely as long as they comply with all necessary testing requirements, and follow government mandated face masks requirements and social-distancing efforts.
Like many other islands in the Caribbean, the path to reopening travel in the Bahamas has involved a lot of back and forth. After initially opening its borders to all international commercial travel in July, the Bahamas restricted flights from the United States a few weeks later after an uptick in coronavirus cases. In October, the Bahamas eased open its borders to travelers from the United States once again, requiring negative PCR test results taken within five days prior to arrival and asking visitors to “vacation in place”—or stay on the grounds of their accommodations for the duration of their stay.
What is the current COVID-19 situation in the Bahamas?
As of December 3, there have been 7,543 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 163 deaths in the Bahamas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
On November 23, the State Department issued a Level 3: Reconsider Travel advisory to the Bahamas due to COVID-related conditions. The CDC currently says, “Travelers should avoid all travel to the Bahamas.” It ranks the destination as a Level 4 (Very High Level of COVID-19) in a travel notice that was last reviewed on December 2.
What kind of safety protocols are in place in the Bahamas?
All incoming travelers are required to upload a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than five days before their arrival date (children 10 and under are not required to take a test). In addition to presenting negative PCR test results upon arrival in the Bahamas, travelers must also upload them at travel.gov.bs to complete a Bahamas Travel Health Visa application.
As part of the Travel Health Visa application, travelers must also opt-in for COVID-19 health insurance that will cover the length of their stay. The cost of the insurance is included in the visa application fee, which depends on the length of stay. It costs $40 for visitors staying up to four nights, and $60 for those staying longer than four nights. It’s free for children 10 years and under.
Travelers staying more than four nights and five days in the Bahamas will also need to take a rapid antigen test at any of the approved testing sites listed at bahamas.com/travelupdates. The cost of this test is included in the visa application fee. Those who fail to take this test will be fined $1,000 or imprisoned for one month. People departing on or before day five will not need to take this test.
If you abide by all these protocols, you’ll be able to move freely about the Bahamas and no longer have to “vacation in place” within the confines of your resort or accommodations.
What commercial airlines are flying to the Bahamas?
After all commercial flights from the U.S. were banned from flying into the Bahamas in July, American, JetBlue, Delta, and United have since resumed routes from cities like Miami, Atlanta, and New York.
The national airline of the Bahamas, Bahamasair, has also resumed outgoing flights to the United States, and Air Canada is flying from Toronto into Nassau, Bahamas. In Google Flights, it appears that British Airways won’t resume its nonstop route to Nassau until February 2021.
What else is open in the Bahamas?
During their time in the Bahamas, all international travelers are being asked by the government to practice social-distancing measures and are required to wear face masks while transiting through airports, as well as in transit in taxis or buses and when entering and exiting restaurants. While masks aren’t required on beaches, you must wear them when entering and exiting them. Those who refuse can be fined $250 or imprisoned for a month.
Keep in mind that some islands have imposed other rules such as curfews and reduced service for restaurants and other business. For example, on Nassau and Paradise Island, where most major resorts are located, indoor dining is permitted at hotels only, while outdooring dining is available elsewhere, including the Arawak Cay Fish Fry. People must be off beaches by curfew time, which starts at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 p.m. on weekends. On less populated islands, like Cat Island, indoor dining is allowed everywhere and there is no curfew. To check individual island restrictions, visit bahamas.com/tourism-reopening and scroll down to the Interactive Island Guide.
Which hotels are open?
Hotels and vacation rentals, including Airbnb and HomeAway, are allowed to welcome guests and the Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort has remained open to guests, with new safety protocols in place, including temperature checks of guests every 24 hours. Face masks are also required of all guests 10 years and above in all public spaces. Additionally, two of the Bahamas’ largest resorts are reopening in the coming weeks—here’s what you can expect.
Atlantis Paradise Island
On December 10, the Atlantis Paradise Island resort will reopen to guests. Upon arrival, guests will have their temperatures taken, and everyone two years and older is required to wear a mask while in public places at the resort. Under the newly formed Paradise Island Safe Zone, registered guests who stay within the safe zone during their stay are not required to take the rapid antigen test on day five of their trip. The safe zone spans the resort’s 200 acres, five miles of white sand beaches, as well as the Ocean Club Golf Course, among other amenities. Atlantis’s flexible cancellation policy allows for cancellations up to 72 hours before arrival. For more information about the Atantis reopening, visit atlantisbahamas.com/travel-info.
On December 17, Baha Mar will begin its phased reopening by welcoming guests back to the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar at a capacity of 60 percent. The Rosewood Baha Mar will reopen, followed by the SLS Baha Mar on future dates that have yet to be announced.
While guests are only being “strongly encouraged” to wear face masks in public places at the resort, they will be required to take a free rapid antigen test prior to check-in in a semi-private setting onsite at the hotel. After checking in, guests must remain in their rooms until test results are available (about 30 minutes). Those with positive results will be visited in their room by a medical professional from the resort’s medical director’s office who will conduct a PCR test. If that test is also positive, guests can either opt to quarantine in the Bahamas or fly home via private jet or air ambulance.
Additionally, guests who must take another rapid antigen test on day five of their trip, per government rules, or need a PCR test before returning home can do so at Baha Mar’s on-site testing center run by Doctor’s Hospital Nassau. On-site PCR tests cost $125 plus tax, while the rapid antigen test is $25 plus tax. (The required day five rapid antigen test at the approved testing sites listed at bahamas.com/travelupdates is free as part of the Bahamas Travel Health Visa fee.)
Baha Mar’s flexible cancellation policy allows for cancellations up to 24 hours before arrival. For more information about the resort’s reopening, read Baha Mar’s Commitment to Your Wellbeing, which outlines all of the safety protocols and requirements.
Can I work from the Bahamas for an extended period of time?
Yes, professionals and students alike can now work remotely from the Bahamas for up to one year with the launch of the Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay (BEATS) program. To apply via portal.immigration.gov.bs, you’ll need a valid passport, medical insurance, and proof of employment or a valid student ID. In addition to a $25 application fee, work permits are $1,000 for the head of household and $500 for each dependent. Student permits are $500 per person.
This article was originally published on July 20, 2020; it was updated on December 3, 2020, to include current information.
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