Updated: May 21
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is not surprised by recent reports of a third COVID-19 wave likely to impact The Bahamas. The Minnis administration has failed to implement the best COVID-19 travel strategy to keep the average Bahamian safe and kickstart our tourism economy. This is despite the DNA leadership presenting them with a comprehensive COVID-19 plan to effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and fund domestic testing and tracing efforts.
One of our key objectives in sharing our plan with the government was to ultimately prevent or mitigate against another wave. Bahamians would recall that the Minnis administration first re-opened the country with the travel requirement to have a valid negative COVID-19 test result within the last 7 days and with the disastrous 72hr no COVID test requirement for returning residents. This resulted in the second wave that claimed lives and livelihoods. Given our limited technological infrastructure to trace and process visitors, it was indeed not surprising that visitors successfully entered our borders with false tests, all of which still remain issues today.
Then the Minister of Tourism promised a testing on arrival strategy, which was later retracted the day before the second re-opening. The second re-opening strategy adopted by the Minnis administration has proven even more ineffective as thousands of visitors were not taking the fifth day test.
Private sector stakeholders like hotels intervened by offering complimentary testing for guests, and medical professionals now charge the average citizen a pretty penny for a COVID-19 test in order to (inter-island) travel. This system must be reviewed and uprooted as it has led to a burden on our economic development. In the end, the old and outdated laissez-faire approach has led to the rich becoming richer and the average Bahamian losing out on a sense of security and certainty.
The DNA calls for key features of our COVID-19 plan to be effectively implemented. In particular, a single point of entry and testing upon arrival strategy as well as amendments to interisland travel requirements. The private sector is also encouraged to offer COVID-19 insurance. This approach has been implemented by more successful countries like Barbados, Cambodia, Germany and New Zealand, and more recently Canada. Our plan will lead to affordable national testing, which is aligned with our healthcare platform.
Boykin G. Smith
DNA Candidate for Garden Hills