NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The possibility of reopening the country to commercial travel on or by July 1 may be “a bit ambitious”, according to Bahamas Taxi Cab Union (BTCU) president Wesley Ferguson.
Ferguson warned that “we could be shooting ourselves in the foot” with the country’s largest tourism source market still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said on Sunday 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.
Ferguson said: “I think the PM is being a bit ambitious. If we open up for commercial travel what does that mean. The United States is nowhere near ready to open up for persons looking to enter. Yes, this is our country and we can open up but to what extent are we going to open.
“I would think that we would be opening up in tandem with the United States which is our major source market.”
He continued: “A number of states are reopening up for commercial activity but the country as a whole is not ready to open up to allow persons in on a major scale. We could be shooting ourselves in the foot.
“America right now is the sickest nation as it pertains to this COVID-19 pandemic. July 1 is in about five weeks and I don’t see the US being anywhere near ready.”
The United States currently leads the world in the number of COVID-19 deaths. The country’s death toll from the pandemic has reached 88,000 deaths, which is more than double the number of coronavirus deaths of the next highest country, the United Kingdom, at 34,000 deaths.
Ferguson noted that the taxi cab industry like many others were ‘riding out the storm’.
“We are just like everyone else,” he said.
“We have no choice in the matter. We never foresaw a complete shutdown. Things were going well and we were looking at a robust year. Nassau was poised for tremendous growth prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He added: “Right now taxi drivers have to ride out the storm like everyone else. There are some who are anxious to get out there. Still, I would prefer to be broke and health as opposed to becoming sick and being unable to work and possibly infecting my family and others just for a few dollars.”