Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Bahamas impose varied movement restrictions through April 30 to stem the spread of COVID-19. Other restrictions apply.

This alert affects Bahamas

This alert began 22 Apr 2020 03:11 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 30
  • Impact: Major commercial and transport disruptions, increased security

Summary
Authorities in the Bahamas have imposed varied movement restrictions across the islands through at least April 30, as part of the nation's efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The movement restriction orders include a daily 24-hour curfew, when residents are only allowed to leave their homes to purchase groceries, medicine, and other essential supplies. Limited commercial activities that do not involve close contact, such as landscaping, are also permitted during curfew. In addition to these restrictions, all persons are may only leave their homes according to a schedule based upon the first letter of their surnames:

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 will be allowed to participate in the shopping schedule. All persons are required to be carrying a government-issued identification while they are in public, which they must present to security forces upon request. All persons are additionally required to wear masks that cover their mouths and noses. 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.

Additionally, the government has routinely ordered weekend lockdowns when residents may not leave the confines of their property for any reason other than to attend to an emergency or to provide essential services. These lockdowns typically begin 2100 Fridays and end 0500 Mondays. During the lockdowns, all businesses are to remain closed; only security, medical, and critical utility services, as well the media, will be allowed to operate. The government has indicated that it will continue to declare lockdowns through least April 30, although the officials may extend the measures beyond that date.

Officials have also canceled all international passenger flights to the country; pleasure craft are no longer allowed to dock at Bahamas' seaports. Other movement restrictions on domestic travel are also in place, including transportation by public bus and most gatherings of people other than those who live in the same household. Most inter-island travel is prohibited.

The measures in place will significantly impact business and transport in the country, with larger than usual police presence in the streets. All restrictions are subject to extension or amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar 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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Government of Bahamas - COVID-19 Page: www.covid19.gov.bs