PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The Bahamian Prime Minister announced travel restrictions into the Bahamas during a national address attributing the closures to a spike in coronavirus cases.
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.
Effectively immediately, its national air carrier, Bahamasair, will cease all outgoing flights to the United States.
“Our current situation requires decisive actions,” Minnis said.
(Watch the announcement below)
Fifteen new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the Bahamas, a record daily count since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March. There have been 49 new cases since the borders reopened on July 1 — 31 were from Grand Bahama island.
Bahamasair flies from Freeport and Nassau to the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Miami International Airport, and West Palm Beach International Airport.
The Bahamas closed its borders to travelers in March. Tourism officials announced the opening of its border to international visitors on July 1.
To accommodate visitors scheduled to leave after Wednesday, July 22, outgoing commercial flights will be permitted, according to the prime minister.
Private international flights and charters for Bahamians, residents and visitors will be permitted. Pleasure craft and yachts will also be permitted.
Visitors from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union by air or by sea from overseas will require a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test from an accredited laboratory taken within 10 days of their arrival, the prime minister stated.
Grand Bahama, according to Minnis, has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 cases after being free of the virus for a little over 2 months. “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.
“If cases continue to spike increase, my government is prepared to implement more restrictive measures and this is not our wish, but if it has to be done, it will be done. We will continue to be guided by the recommendations of our health professionals,” said Minnis.
Parts of the Bahamas still continue to feel suffered setbacks from Hurricane Dorian, which slammed into the northern Bahamas in September 2019. Dorian first made landfall on Abaco on September 1 as the most powerful hurricane ever recorded to hit the Bahamas. With its maximum sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph, Dorian tied the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to come ashore, equaling the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before the storms were named.