April 06, 2021
MANY residents left Eleuthera yesterday without having to show proof that they had a negative COVID-19 PCR test result despite last week’s change to the COVID-19 Emergency Order making this a requirement for travel.
The policy took effect on Thursday and required anyone travelling from Harbour Island and Eleuthera to another part of The Bahamas to take a RT-PCR test to obtain a travel visa.
The sudden policy changes prompted outrage and caused some to cancel trips. New Providence residents are required to have a negative PCR test to travel domestically, and many were worried about having to get tested again to return to the island from Eleuthera.
Dianna Malone told The Tribune last week she was concerned she would not be able to return home as planned. She was worried about where she would get tested in Eleuthera.
Yesterday, however, she said she obtained a travel visa without uploading a new PCR test result.
“After all the stress of trying to get our tests done on Thursday to be able to get our visas back on time to return on Monday, when applying for the health visa on Sunday afternoon the visa was automatically approved and the website never asked me to upload our results,” she said. “I don’t understand why it would be a requirement effective April 1, but the website not be updated to request it.”
Ms Malone said the boat on which she travelled did not request the test result and only looked for visas.
Another resident, Kayla Dorsett, said she obtained a second test result but did not need it to get on Bahamasair’s flight from Eleuthera yesterday. The flight had about 66 passengers.
“We ended up spending $250 overall because the Prime Minister implemented the new rule at the last hour,” she said. “But there was a plot twist. They weren’t asking passengers for the test this week because they said the change was no fault to the passengers. So money was wasted on my part. They only wanted to see the travel visa.”
Bahamasair chairman Tommy Turnquest said yesterday after receiving complaints from customers, he reached out to the management of the airline and assured them people could depart Eleuthera with just a valid travel visa.
“The PCR is good for five days,” he said. “So, if you left on Friday, you would’ve needed a PCR test to get a travel visa and when you uploaded your travel visa you would’ve uploaded your test result as well. Invariably the travel visa was paid for and as long as you had a valid travel visa you could get back. The travel visa is your ticket to get on the plane.”
Although Mr Turnquest noted that the “vast majority of people went on Friday or Thursday and came back yesterday,” many who returned yesterday likely had original tests that were more than five days old.
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News date : 04/06/2021
Category : Covid-19, About Bahamians, Tribune Stories