Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Bahamas extends emergency powers, port closures through May 30 to stem the spread of COVID-19. Disruptions to continue.

This alert affects Bahamas

This alert began 29 Apr 2020 16:37 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Authorities in the Bahamas have extended the government's emergency powers through May 30 as part of the nation's efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Existing restrictions, a daily 24-hour curfew on weekdays and weekend lockdowns from 2100 Fridays-0500 Mondays, will remain in effect until further notice. During the 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.

On curfew days, on the other hand, grocery stores and markets, pharmacies, pet food stores, fuel stations, laundromats, plant nurseries, home and hardware stores, auto parts stores, and landscaping and property maintenance businesses are allowed to operate during designated time frames. Moreover, residents may only leave their homes to purchase groceries, medicine, and other essential supplies during designated time frames, as determined by the first letter of the person's surname. These shopping windows are:

Surname beginning with A-F:

  • Mondays: 0600-1200
  • Wednesdays: 0600-1200
  • Thursdays: 1300-1900


Surname beginning with G-O:

  • Mondays: 1300-1900
  • Wednesdays: 1300-1900
  • Fridays: 0600-1200


Surname beginning with P-Z:

  • Tuesdays: 1300-1900
  • Thursdays: 0600-1200
  • Fridays: 1300-1900


Persons over the age of 60 and persons with disabilities may also shop Tuesdays 0600-1200. Only one person per household is allowed to be outside the home shopping at a given time. All persons must carry a government-issued identification while in public and produce it to law enforcement officers upon demand. Residents must wear protective masks covering the mouth and nose while in public. Businesses are required to ensure that customers maintain a distance of 1.8 meters (six feet) from one another. Failure to comply with the regulations may result in a fine and/or imprisonment.

Airports remain closed to all incoming international passenger flights and seaports to all private regional and international boaters. Pleasure craft are not allowed to dock at Bahamas' seaports and nonessential inter-island maritime travel is prohibited. Local and international cargo and emergency aircraft and sea vessels continue to operate. Restrictions public transportation use and most public gatherings also remain in place.

The restrictions will continue to have a significant impact on business and transport in the country. Authorities will likely keep an increased police presence deployed to enforce the restrictions. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Bahamas are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
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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