Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Bahamas to reimpose some international travel restrictions from July 22. New COVID-19 restrictions in place for Grand Bahama.
- Alert Begins: 20 Jul 2020 10:11 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 30 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Commercial and transport disruptions
Authorities in the Bahamas will reimpose some international travel restrictions from July 22, and have announced new internal measures in some areas as of July 20. This decision is in response to an increase in local coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity since the country's international borders were reopened to all incoming passengers July 1. Stricter measures are in place on Grand Bahama.
Effective July 22, international commercial passenger flights will not be permitted to enter the Bahamas, except flights from the UK, European Union, and Canada. Sea vessels carrying commercial passengers will also not be permitted entry from July 22. Officials have also suspended all flights to the US on the Bahamas national carrier, Bahamasair (UP), as of July 19.
Private international and charter flights, as well as pleasure craft and yachts from all countries, are excluded from the travel ban. Domestic travel, local and international cargo, and emergency aircraft and sea vessels continue to operate normally. All arriving passengers will be subject to enhanced health screenings and must present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival, taken from within the last 10 days, as well as an approved health visa. A person without a negative test from an approved lab will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
- Beginning July 22, Grand Bahama's domestic and international borders will be closed to all flights, except emergency and essential flights.
- Ferry boat operations between East End, Grand Bahama, and Crown Haven, Abaco, will not be allowed from July 20.
- Beginning July 20, a 1900-0500 curfew will be enforced daily. During the curfew, residents may not leave the confines of their property for any reason other than to attend to an emergency or to provide essential services.
- All beaches, parks, and indoor dining at restaurants are to remain closed from July 20.
- Congregate activities, such as weddings, funerals, religious services, and sporting events, are prohibited from July 20.
New Providence and Surrounding Areas
- The 2200-0500 curfew will continue to be enforced outside Grand Bahama until further notice.
- All beaches and parks will be closed on New Providence, Paradise Island, Rose Island, Athol Island, and surrounding cays from July 20.
- Restaurants at Arawak Cay and Potter's Cay will also be required to close from July 20.
Most of the tourism sector across the Bahamas remains closed, including tourist attractions, excursions and tours, vendors (including straw vendors), and jet ski operators. Outside the tourism sector, the majority of professional services and commercial activities have been permitted to resume normal operating hours (outside of the curfew). Hotels and vacation rentals that were previously closed reopened July 1. Establishments must adhere to physical distancing and sanitization protocols. Individuals are required to wear a protective face mask in public areas. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice, and previously lifted measures may be reapplied.
Background and Analysis
Several regional governments have begun implementing recovery plans to lift restrictive measures introduced in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) March 11. The recent reversal of some recovery initiatives highlights that relaxed restrictions may be reapplied if the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increases. This is especially likely on the more densely populated islands of Grand Bahama, Bimini, and New Providence, where the capital and commercial hub, Nassau, is located. 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. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.
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.