Our current situation requires decisive actions, if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus
Bahamian Prime Minister Huberg Minnis
(CMR) The Bahamanian Prime Minister announced today that it will close all of its airports and seaports to US travelers during a national address earlier this evening after it imported a vast majority of cases since opening its borders on July 1. Grand Bahama’s international and domestic borders will be closed to all incoming and outgoing flights and sea vessels.
Additional lockdown measures will be implemented including the closing of all public and private beaches and a new island-wide curfew to go into effect Monday. All indoor dining, public and private beaches and parks also will be closed until further notice.
“All congregant activities and gatherings, inclusive of religious services, weddings and funerals and sporting activities will not be allowed, effective Monday,”
Bahamasair, the country’s national carrier, will cease all outgoing flights to the United States immediately, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a national address Sunday. Outgoing commercial flights will still be permitted to accommodate visitors scheduled to leave the Bahamas after Wednesday.
International commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter the Bahamas, unless they are from Canada, the United Kingdom or the European Union, beginning Wednesday, July 22, said Prime Minister Huberg Minnis. They must all show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited laboratory with 10 days of their arrival.
Fifteen new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the Bahamas prompting the move to close its borders to what is now the world's epicenter of COVID-19. There have been 49 new cases in three weeks with 31 being from Grand Bahama Island. The country has a total of 153 cases.
Bahamasair flies from Freeport and Nassau to the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Miami International Airport, and West Palm Beach International Airport.
The Bahamas originally closed its borders to all travelers in March but re-opened at the beginning of July. Since then, there has been a resurgence of cases after Grand Bahama was free fo the virus for over 2 months. He shared that:
“The increase in cases coincided with the reinstitution of international flights and passenger sea transport. Grand Bahamas now has a curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning on Monday. All public and private beaches and parks are closed until further notice.”
The U.S., and Florida in particular, represent the largest tourism market for the Bahamas, which has been keeping a close eye on Florida’s high COVID-19 case count and death toll. On Sunday, Florida’s state’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 12,478 new cases, the second-highest total for a Sunday but far below last week’s 15,300.
Last week, the state had 69,700 new cases. This week’s 80,236 new cases pushed the state past 350,000 cases.
The Pan American Health Organization has warned that the reopening of borders comes with risks and countries must not only be equipped to trace and isolate new infections but shut down their borders if need be.
The Bahamas continues to recover after being hammered by Hurrican Dorian in September 2019. That was the most powerful hurricane ever recorded to hit the Bahamas.