Chamber says July 1 for commercial travel ‘careful’

Chamber says July 1 for commercial travel ‘careful’
Jeffrey Beckles

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation (BCCEC) chief executive officer Jeffrey Beckles yesterday called the decision to commence commercial travel on or before July 1, a ‘careful consideration’.

Beckles acknowledged “progress is being made” towards with the gradual reopening of the economy in an interview with Eyewitness News.

“Obviously we are very excited to hear of the progress that has been made to get more businesses open, particularly the family islands being able to resume their commerce which is always very good,” said Beckles.

“We are always very happy about that. We are also happy to see that there is a continued focus on the safety of our people and our health which is really where we have our greatest asset.”

He said: “We know that the decision to bring guests in as early as July is a careful consideration and we are confident that any decision made will be guided by the health professionals to ensure we are able to open up safely.”

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday that officials were eyeing a possible opening date for commercial travel on or before July 1.

He insisted this date was not final, and will be adjusted if there is a deterioration of positive trends or if there are insufficient preventative measures in place.

Sandals is eyeing a June 1 opening of its Bahamian resorts and Atlantis said last week that it is targeting June 15 to commence a phased opening.

Last week, CARICOM approved a strategy for a phased reopening of economies in the Caribbean Community, including the reopening of borders to intra-regional travel by next month.

At the 50th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the council agreed to a framework that focuses on the development and adherence to defined metrics related to the COVID-19 virus, which will guide in the reopening process.

Prime Minister Minnis has also announced the resumption of commercial activity in four more Family Islands.

Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros will now be able to resume commercial activity tomorrow.

Those islands join Inagua, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay.

The prime minister maintained weekday curfews and lockdown measures remain in place for reopened islands, alongside physical distancing and the mandatory use of face masks.