EU considering US travel restrictions

EU considering US travel restrictions

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As The Bahamas prepares to reopen its borders to commercial flights next week Monday, welcoming visitors from the United States and other jurisdictions, the European Union is considering a different approach.

According to a draft list obtained by The New York Times,  America, Russia and Brazil could excluded from the list of acceptable travelers that can visit the bloc of countries as of July 1 due to COVID-19 infection levels.

Two potential lists of acceptable travelers include China — the former epicenter of the virus — as well as developing nations such as Cuba, Uganda and Vietnam, according The New York Times.

Inquiries as to whether The Bahamas has been included on either list was unsuccessful.

According to the John Hopkins University, the United States leads the world in cases with over 2.3 million infections and more than COVID-19-related 120,000 deaths — double more than any other country.

Brazil and Russia follow with 1.1 million and 598,000 cases respectively.

The official opposition has called on the government to proceed wisely with reopening the country, insisting that reopening on next week Monday will not solve the economic crisis, but will increase the risk of the virus spreading through communities.

Opposition Philip Brave Davis has said there appears to be a lack of proper planning, however, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has maintained while all necessary precautions will be taken to protect the health and safety of citizens, the “health, economy and social concerns” must be balanced.

During his wrap up of the budget debate, Minnis acknowledged that as The Bahamas and other countries across the world reopen their economies, societies and borders, “there will be inevitably an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases within and across borders”.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis contributes to 2020/2021 budget debate, June 22, 2020. (BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)

“Just as with the other nations of the world, The Bahamas must continue to balance health, economic and social concerns in order to ensure the viability and sustainability of our countries,” he explained.

The government requires all visitors, with few exceptions, to have tested negative for COVID-19 within 10 days of entry.

Health officials have acknowledged that this will mitigate, but not eliminate the potential of importing new infections.

Minnis has said The Bahamas is the “envy of the world” in its response to the threat of the virus and the swift decision to close its borders and implement lockdowns.

“During our phased and gradual reopening we have repeatedly emphasized the need for everyone to do their part. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. There is no vaccine as yet. The wearing of facial masks is absolutely necessity and has significantly helped to reduce the spread of the virus at home and around the world.

“We must all do our part and be personally responsible by wearing our masks, maintaining physical distance and washing and sanitizing our hands thoroughly and often.”

The prime minister has said if there is a significant resurgence in the countries tourist come from, these places “could re-impose lockdowns and borders closings”.

He has suggested The Bahamas could revert to previous stages of opening if cases became too significant in the country.

Trump: America doing “very well”

At a White House ceremony last Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said America was doing “incredibly well” and returning Americans to work.

He predicted that a vaccine could be developed by the end of the year, but suggested that even without it, the virus would diminish on its own.

“We are doing incredibly well, we’re doing well. Things happening that nobody can even believe. Our country is opening up and it is opening up rapidly.”

He continued: We are very far advanced. We’ve have already started tests and trials, so I think we going to have a very, very good answer to that very, very soon. I always say, even without it, it goes away, but if we had the vaccine, and we will — if we had therapeutic or cure — one thing sort of blends into the other, it will be a fantastic day. And I think that is going to happen, and it’s going to happen very soon.”