Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Bahamas announces varied easing of restrictions, curfew hours across the islands from June 2. Airports and seaports closed until June 29.

This alert affects Bahamas

This alert began 01 Jun 2020 10:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Major commercial and transport disruptions

Authorities in the Bahamas announced the country will move into Phase 3 of its reopening plan and will lift numerous restrictions from June 2. These measures are part of the country's efforts to reopen the economy while maintaining some restrictive measures to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The weekend lockdown has been extended until June 2 on all islands, with some provisions made for the opening of grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants for non-dining purposes. Thereafter, a new curfew will be imposed 2100-0500 Monday to Friday, with the existing weekend lockdowns in effect until further notice. During the curfew and weekend lockdown periods, residents may not leave the confines of their property for any reason other than to attend to an emergency or to provide essential services.

Outside of the curfews and lockdowns, the following businesses and activities may resume from June 2, or unless stated otherwise:

  • Normal commercial operations, including nonessential businesses, may resume on all the islands, except New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Bimini.
  • Restaurants (except for curbside and deliveries service), bars, gyms, hair salons and barbershops, movie theatres, and cultural and entertainment facilities remain closed on New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Bimini.
  • Public parks and beaches may reopen on all islands except for Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island, New Providence, Paradise Island, and San Salvador.
  • Graduation ceremonies, funerals, and weddings, in groups of no more than 30, may take place with the approval of the competent authority.
  • Gaming House operators may operate 0900-1700 Monday to Friday, in compliance with physical distancing and sanitization protocols.
  • Professional services, such as law firms, real estate agents, and financial services, may expand their operating hours until 1700.
  • In-store operations are now permitted in New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Bimini 0900-1700 Monday to Friday.
  • Worship services may resume June 6 in New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Bimini 0700-1300 under strict health and safety protocols.

Airports remain closed to all incoming international passenger flights and seaports to all private regional and international boaters through at least June 29. However, pleasure craft are now permitted to dock at Bahamas' seaports as of May 18, and most domestic inter-island travel has resumed. Local and international cargo and emergency aircraft and sea vessels continue to operate. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Bahamas are similar to actions taken by governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. While the economy has already almost fully opened across most of the islands, the most restrictive measures will likely remain in place on the densely populated islands of Grand Bahama, Bimini, as well as New Providence, where the capital and commercial hub, Nassau, is located. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, relaxed restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in a further relaxation of restrictions.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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