Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Bahamas maintains curfew, port closures as of May 21 to stem the spread of COVID-19; business restrictions lifted in most of Family Islands.
This alert affects Bahamas
This alert began 21 May 2020 13:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 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 are maintaining various restrictions across the islands as of May 21 as part of the government's emergency powers order to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A daily 24-hour curfew on weekdays and weekend lockdowns from 2100 Fridays-0500 Mondays will remain in effect across the islands, except in Bimini, which is under a complete lockdown through at least May 30. 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. Under the 24-hour curfew, residents may only leave their homes to make purchases from approved businesses, conduct or provide essential business, or attend to an emergency.
The government has relaxed restrictions on some of the less densely populated islands; authorities require businesses to enforce physical distancing protocols and ensure all individuals wear masks in public. As of May 21, normal business operations have resumed on the Family Islands of Abaco, Acklins Andros, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Inagua, Long Island, and Mayaguana, as well as on Rum Cay and Ragged Island. While officials previously banned domestic inter-island travel across the Bahamas, residents of these locations cleared for commercial activity are now permitted to travel between those islands and to New Providence and Grand Bahama. However, residents must complete additional health procedures to return to the Family Islands if traveling from New Providence or Grand Bahama.
Elsewhere in the Bahamas, including in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, and Exumas, stricter restrictions remain mostly unchanged, with only minor amendments. Essential and previously authorized businesses may continue to operate. Pharmacies may now operate 0900-0500 Monday to Friday for the general public and between 0900-0500 on Saturdays for essential workers only. Exercise is permitted between 0500-0800 on Saturdays and Sundays in one's immediate neighborhood. Restrictions on public transportation use and most public gatherings also remain in place.
Airports remain closed to all incoming international passenger flights and seaports to all private regional and international boaters. However, pleasure craft are now permitted to dock at Bahamas' seaports as of May 18. 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 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.
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.