US travel blocked; new curfew for GB
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Fifteen new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the country today — a record daily count since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March.
During his national address, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the closure of the country’s borders to all incoming international commercial flights, except from Canada, United Kingdom and the European Union as of Wednesday.
He also announced the immediate suspension of Bahamasair flights to the United States, alongside increased restrictions and offenses aimed at curbing the virus’ resurgence.
Outgoing flights will still be permitted to accommodate visitors scheduled to leave after Wednesday, Minnis said.
There have been 49 new cases since the borders reopened on July 1 — 31 in Grand Bahama and 18 in New Providence.
The new infections have pushed the total number of confirmed cases to 153.
In New Providence, the new cases include two men, ages 53 and 29, both of whom had a history of travel, and two women. ages 29 and 58. One of the women had a history of travel.
The remaining 11 cases also stemmed from Grand Bahama and included three women and eight men, ranging in age from 17-year-old to 71.
Details on travel history and condition of those patients were “unable to be confirmed” at the time of the report, and health teams are reportedly investigating and updating records to publish in a later update.
As it relates to Grand Bahama, which has undergone a surge of cases, the prime minister announced a new curfew from 7pm to 5am daily on the island, effective Monday.
He said all private and public beaches on Grand Bahama will be closed until further notice effective, Monday at 5am.
Public parks and beaches in New Providence, Paradise Island, Rose Island, Athol Island and surrounding cays will be also closed until further notice effective Monday at 5am.
Additionally, international and domestic borders will be closed to all incoming and outgoing flights and sea vessels to and from Grand Bahama with exception of emergency transport
A curfew remains in effect on all other islands from 10pm to 5am.
The prime minister also announced restaurants at Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay will also be closed effective tomorrow.
He said measures will remain until “we are able to ensure better social distancing can be practiced”.
Before the July 1 reopening of the country’s borders to international commercial carriers, The Bahamas observed 104 total cases for over three weeks, and active cases dwindled to as few as four.
Today, the prime minister said progress in some countries can be reversed by how citizens are “following or ignoring” health guidelines.
He said regrettably the situation in the country has “deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.”
“So today, I am announcing a number of measures we are reinstating to address the number of new cases we are seeing here at home,” Minnis said. My government has consulted heavily with health officials.
“We are taking these strong actions to save lives. I understand the frustration and the disappointment of many Bahamians and residents that may ensue as we reimplement certain restrictions, but as a country, we have to do what is right and what is necessary.
“If we do not take these measures now we will pay a higher price and deadlier price at a later date. At the onset, of the COVI19 pandemic, we acted early to prevent widespread sickness and death. We must do so once again.”
According to the prime minister, The Bahamas is in a marathon that requires endurance and agility to change course where necessary.
He said there is a continued balancing act to get Bahamians back to work, stimulate the economy and mitigate the risks of the potentially deadly virus.
As part of this, Minnis said The Bahamas is reviewing and being guided by the “most effective practices from around the world”.
The prime minister also said The Bahamas must be prepared to adapt and apply decisive action to avoid being “overrun and defeated” by the virus. He said priorities must be balance, but the country cannot afford for its health facilities and healthcare system to be overrun.
He said the first priority is to save lives.