Four more islands reopened for commercial activity
Repatriations for Bahamians and residents to resume this week
Boaters allowed to come ashore
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced the introduction of a COVID-19 travel card to facilitate the resumption of inter-island travel.
Minnis said the process will begin on Wednesday, with each person required to be examined by a doctor and given a travel card if approved.
He noted that nearly every doctor in the private sector has committed to assist with risk assessments.
“Individuals must also submit to an evaluation by a Ministry of Health-authorized physician, in the public or private sector,” he said.
“This evaluation will include a risk assessment via a questionnaire to determine the individual’s level of risk for COVID-19 infection, plus or minus a physical exam to determine the presence of any symptoms consistent with COVID-19.”
Minnis said: “If deemed low risk and the physical exam does not reveal any symptoms, it is expected that the person will be issued a COVID-19 Authorization Travel Card that will allow travel to the Family Island.
“If the individual is deemed a higher risk or has symptoms that may be consistent with COVID-19, the individual will be referred for testing to definitively determine their COVID- 19 status.
“However, the healthcare provider may still decide that a person who is low risk may need to be tested for COVID-19.”
In the first phase, residents of Family Islands who have been stuck in the capital will be allowed to return home.
However, Minnis said residents on uninfected islands will be able to travel between those islands without a COVID card by plane or boat.
Residents from uninfected islands will also be able to travel to New Providence or Grand Bahama, but will need to complete the evaluation process to return.
Individuals are asked to call 511 to register, or email email@example.com.
The government will resume repatriation exercises for Bahamians and residents with flights on Thursday and Saturday.
Minnis said individuals seeking to return can book directly through Bahamasair, adding a negative test result will be required before being allowed to board.
The prime minister also revealed boaters in Bahamian waters will be allowed to come ashore to conduct routine business, adding the vessels had been anchored offshore for well beyond 14 days.
During his national address, the prime minister noted the country has not had a new COVID-19 case in four days.
As of Sunday, there are 96 confirmed cases, with 42 recovered cases.
Minnis 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.
“We must continue to remain vigilant to secure our progress and limit community spread,” he said.
“As a small country we cannot allow our health system to be overwhelmed.”
He continued: “We must abide by regional and global health protocols as we reopen economy and society. If advised by health officials we will return to certain phases or reimpose certain restrictions in order to limit community spread. I fully understand anxiety and frustration to reopen economy but we must act with prudence and act with good judgement. We have to balance the health, economic and social needs of citizens and residents.”
Minnis said 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.
Construction companies will now be allowed to operate on Saturdays.
Minnis also announced further relaxation of restrictions for home and hardware stores to allow for hurricane preparation.
Those stores will be allowed to operate in-store hours on Mondays from 8am to 8pm.