TCPalm. NASSAU, Bahamas – The Office of the Prime Minister of the Bahamas announced on its Facebook page Friday afternoon there will be a weekend-long lockdown of all islands in the Bahamas. This is in addition to the two-week lockdown ordered for Grand Bahama which took effect Thursday.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis addressed the nation at 6pm on Friday.
The island nation of the Bahamas, almost entirely dependent economically on tourism dollars, announced a partial closure of its borders to incoming tourists.
The reason? Rising cases of COVID-19.
The announcement was made July 19 by Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis. The statement announced:
- COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas rose by 15 on July 19
- Since the nation re-opened July 1, 49 new cases were reported
- The total cases in the Bahamas is at 153
- In the United States, as close as 55 miles off its shores, there are 7.3 million cases
- In Florida July 20, 10,347 new cases were reported
The following travel restrictions were announced:
- No commercial international flights allowed from the United States
- No commercial vessels allowed from the United States
- The order is effective at midnight July 22
- Bahamasair will cease outgoing flights to the U.S. immediately
- Outgoing flights will be permitted to accommodate any current visitors scheduled to return to the United States after July 22.
This travel is still permitted, as long as travelers provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 10 days of arrival:
- Private flights and charters from the United States
- Pleasure crafts and yachts from the United States
- Travelers from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union
One of the hardest hit spots is Grand Bahama Island, with 31 new cases in the past two weeks. Grand Bahama is a destination frequently visited by Floridians traveling into the country on personal boats. It was COVID-19 free for a little more than two months.
The increase in cases coincided with the re-institution of international flights and passenger sea transport, Minnis said. Many of the cases, he said, were traceable to Bahamian residents returning to the Bahamas.
Tuesday, Minnis announced the island of Grand Bahama will now be on total lockdown beginning Thursday. That presents a problem for Floridian boaters coming to the Bahamas because West End, on Grand Bahama, is a place where many boaters clear customs. The lockdown will last for two weeks. No travel into or off of the island, even between other islands, will not be allowed.
Since Grand Bahama has been identified as a hot spot, Minnis announced these measures effective for the island:
- A new curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily
- All public and private beaches and parks are closed until further notice
- International and domestic borders will be closed to all incoming and outgoing flights and sea vessels to and from Grand Bahama, except for emergencies and to transport essential services and goods, effective July 22
- Ferry boat operations between East End, Grand Bahama and Crown Haven, Abaco are shut down until further notice
- Stricter enforcement of social distancing and mask wearing, with fines for non-compliance
- Indoor dining is closed. Outdoor dining, takeaway and curbside delivery are permitted
- Bars remain closed
- All Fish Fry’s inclusive of, but not limited to Eight Mile Rock, Smith’s Point, West End and Williams Town closed
- All congregant activities and gatherings, inclusive of religious services, weddings and funerals and sporting activities, are not allowed