Tourists, residents urged to wear mask or face $200 fines, jail

Tourists, residents urged to wear mask or face $200 fines, jail

PM warns follow the rules, or no beach

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced both tourists and residents will face heavy fines if they don’t wear a face mask in public spaces.

During a national address today, Minnis said individuals who do not wear a mask face $200 in fines, one month in prison, or both.

A new COVID-19 enforcement unit led by the Royal Bahamas Police Force has been set up to ensure compliance with the Emergency Orders, he said.

Ahead of the opening of beaches tomorrow, the prime minister warned the residents to follow strict social distancing protocols, and avoiding mass gatherings, or risk the immediate closure of those public spaces.

Beaches and parks will reopen on New Providence, Paradise Island, Grand Bahama and Bimini, joining the remaining Family Islands whose beaches were opened over two weeks ago and prior.

A closed sign at the entrance of Montague Beach.

Minnis insisted that masks are to be worn by all Bahamians, residents, and visitors, entering and exiting the beaches.

“Please be reminded, gatherings on the beaches of more than five persons are strictly prohibited. This will result in a fine under the Emergency Orders,” the prime minister said during a national address.

“Our enforcement teams will be monitoring this risk closely.

“Mass gatherings may result in the immediate closure of the respective beach.

“Additionally, depending on the results of the beaches monitoring during this upcoming week, we will make a determination on whether the beaches will remain opened or closed on the Independence Holiday weekend.”

Minnis stressed business establishments that allow customers to enter or remain in an establishment without the mask, will be fined.

The first breach will result in a $500 fine, with the possibility of temporary closure or a greater level of fines if there are more infractions.

The Bahamas will enter Phase 2 of the government’s tourism plan with the reopening of the country’s borders for international commercial flights on Wednesday.

The country, however, remains on a 10pm to 5am curfew until the end of July.

Hotels and vacation rentals will be allowed to reopen and taxi services can resume based on guidelines in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation’s Bahamas Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan.

Additionally, private and public bus services can resume, with 50 percent occupancy based on specified guidelines.

The prime minister indicated however that despite the opening of some parts of the tourism industry, attractions, excursions, and tours cannot resume operations until July 13.

Vendors, including straw vendors, and Jet Ski operators, can recommence operations on July 23.

Also allowed to resume operations when the country reopens on July 1 are gyms and outdoor group exercise.

Minnis noted that while masks are not required during exercise, both indoors and outdoors, individuals are required to wear their masks up to the point they begin exercising and immediately after they have completed.

Additionally, individuals must have their masks visibly and easily identifiable on their person during their exercise routines.