Bahamas establishes lockdown and strict travel restrictions again

A countrywide lockdown has been issued in the Bahamas over the weekend once again with the establishment of a new set of stringent travel restrictions. Contrary to all the announcements made last week, it is mandatory for all arriving travelers to observe 14 day quarantine in a state run facility at their own costs. The decision comes in light of a new surge in positive coronavirus cases especially on Grand Bahamas Island in the city of Freeport.

It was previously announced that the country has opened its borders and is ready to welcome tourists from Canada, the U.K. and the E.U. The country only kept its borders closed to travellers arriving from the U.S. It was also declared that countries mentioned that ‘allowed’ or ‘safe’ list would be exempted from testing prior to arrival as well as quarantine period.

However, in a changing turn of events, all travellers irrespective of the country they are flying from would require to undergo 14-day quarantine as well as undergo a PCR COVID-19 test at the end of their isolation period at their own expense before embarking on their vacation. On Friday, The Bahamian government issued a mandatory lockdown starting the same day through Sunday, July 26.

As a part of the lockdown measures all residents were ordered to remain confined at their residences except for medical emergency or food requirements. On the other hand, the Grand Bahamas Island has been put on total lockdown until at least August 7, and the airport has been closed to all commercial flights. According to reports, American Airlines was set to resume operations to Nassau, Georgetown and Eleuthera but has now suspended its flights until September after the Prime Minister’s directive was declared.

Starting Monday, July 7, the Bahamas will also face new national restrictions for the rest of the islands that include a curfew from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM. All indoor and outdoor dining restaurants have prohibited from operation with only curbside pickup allowed. All business activities have been advised to be stopped by 6:00 PM. A renewed ban on in-person religious services, sporting events, group exercise and all social gatherings has been declared. Weddings and funerals are permitted with only a maximum of 5 people.

In addition, all inter-island travel will also be discontinued from July 28, 7:00 PM and any individual travelling domestically between the islands will also have to quarantine for 14 days. The previously mentioned COVID-19 PCR pre-travel testing stipulation will no longer be included under the new orders and the requirement for travelers to complete the online Health Visa form have been scrapped. It has been mentioned that the latest quarantine measures at government facilities will supersede all previously announced COVID-19 measures.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said in a recent press statement the situation of the Bahamas has regrettably deteriorated since the reopening of the domestic economy and has further has deteriorated at an exponential rate since the reopening of international borders. He mentioned that in order to avoid being overrun and defeated by the virus, the current situation demands decisive action.

An official statement from the Attorney General Honorable Carl Bethel, QC stated that the provisions governing the admission of foreign visitors to The Bahamas were changed in order to create a uniform standard of treatment for all visitors to The Bahamas during the Pandemic Emergency. It mentioned that the creation of a uniform framework means that there is no longer any need to create any list of countries from which The Bahamas would accept commercial flights, which thereby excludes other countries.

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