BY ALISON FOX
The Bahamas will once again ban American travelers amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States, the country’s prime minister announced on Sunday.
The move comes after the Caribbean nation started opening up to tourism, first welcoming yachts and private planes on June 15, followed by commercial airlines on July 1. Under the new rules, which go into effect on July 22, commercial flights and vessels from Canada, the UK, and the European Union are still welcome.
“While there are countries that continue to make progress, such progress can be reversed because of what is happening in neighboring and other countries,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a statement, adding: “We are in a marathon not a sprint… Like other nations that responded well at the outset of the pandemic, the Bahamas is working through the same balancing act. We are trying to get Bahamians back to work and to promote economic activity, while also limiting the spread of the virus.”
In addition to incoming flights, Minnis said Bahamasair “will cease outgoing flights to the United States of America, effective immediately.” Private international flights and yachts from the U.S., however, will continue to be allowed, but all visitors will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no later than 10 days before traveling.
The Bahamas have seen a spike in cases as the islands reopened to tourism, including registering 31 new cases in two weeks on Grand Bahama after being COVID-19-free for just over two months. As a result, a nightly curfew has been implemented for that island and all public and private beaches were closed on Monday, Minnis said. On July 22, Grand Bahama will also close to all incoming and outgoing flights and vessels.
“I understand the frustration and the disappointment of many Bahamians and residents that may ensue as we re-implement certain restrictions. But as a country we have to do what is right and necessary,” Minnis said. “If we do not take these measures now, we will pay a higher and deadlier price later.”
In total, the Bahamas has reported 153 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Minnis noted, 49 of which have been recorded since the borders reopened on July 1.
Minnis said if cases in the country increase, he “is prepared to implement more restrictive measures.”
While international travel is difficult right now, there are several countries that continue to welcome American visitors this summer, including in the Caribbean.