COVID-19 has upended global travel and brought the world to a standstill. Many countries around the world have been forced to close their boundaries to non-citizens and restrict leisure travel completely.
Various Caribbean countries are already facing unique challenges with dealing with the viral outbreak from low death rates and instituting mandatory stay-at-home orders early to stop the virus from spreading. Now with many countries looking to the future of travel once everything resumes, some countries are requiring returning citizens and tourists to test for COVID-19.
Antigua and Barbuda announced that they will be requiring COVID-19 test certificates to prove their negative results in order to be allowed entry into the country. The island plans for tourists to undergo rapid testing for the virus before boarding the aircraft to visit.
The Bahamas and Haiti joined in announcing their COVID-19 testing requirements earlier this week. This comes after the push for a new COVID-19 “passport” for travelers to prove they are negative in order to fly. Some critics say the action will be difficult to implement.
“Requiring some kind of COVID passport is going to be difficult,” said Carlos Espinal, director of the Global Health Consortium at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health at Florida International University to the Miami Herald.
According to the Miami Herald, in a national address last Sunday, Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that any citizen or legal resident who wanted to return will need to obtain a real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction diagnostic test from an accredited lab, “unless otherwise approved to have the test administered upon arrival.” The test, also known as RT-PCR, is considered the gold standard of testing due to its accuracy for detecting the coronavirus.
“All those returning will be required to be quarantined for 14 days in a government quarantine facility or self-quarantined,” Minnis said. This comes after the Bahamian Health Minister Duane Sands submitted his resignation, taking full responsibility for allowing six permanent residents to return to the country through a private air charter despite the border closure and testing requirement.