Embassy warns Americans who remain should plan to stay for an “indefinite period of time”.
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The United States Embassy is Nassau has urged its citizens in The Bahamas over the last few days to “leave now”, insisting the available flights to the U.S. could cease at any moment without notice due to restrictions on incoming international flights.
As of today, there were six flights departing The Bahamas to the United States, including Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Tampa and Atlanta.
These included: a North Eleuthera to Fort Lauderdale flight at 1.10pm on Silver Airways; another Silver Airways flight from Bimini to Fort Lauderdale at 2.15pm; a Silver Airways flight from Freeport, Grand Bahama to Fort Lauderdale at 2.20pm; a United Airlines flight from Nassau to House at 2.55pm; a Silver Airways Nassau to Tampa flight at 3.15pm; and a Nassau to Atlanta flight at 3.39pm via Delta.
“The availability of flights to the United States has diminished considerably and has the potential to cease at any moment and without notice due to a lack of passenger volume and due to the restrictions now in effect on incoming international flights,” the embassy said in a health alert.
“If you are a U.S. citizen in The Bahamas and you need to return to the United States, we urge you to leave now.
“U.S. citizens who choose to remain in The Bahamas should prepare to do so for an indefinite period of time.”
It added: “We cannot predict if, or for how long, the Bahamian government may extend these orders. However, Bahamian government officials have already publicly discussed the likelihood of extending the emergency powers orders to combat the spread of COVID-19 for the entire month of April, including airport restrictions.
Last Monday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced additional measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including closing all airports to incoming flights carrying visitors effective last Tuesday.
Last Friday, the government shutdown the borders for all incoming people, including Bahamian citizens and residents, due to the rapid spread of the virus in the United States.
There were 11 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas as of Sunday morning.
Notwithstanding the shutdown, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised Bahamians abroad who are in distress or seeking to return to The Bahamas to contact the nearest Bahamian embassy, high commission, consulate general of honorary consulate; and in instances where these offices do not exist, the ministry directly.
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Nassau advised their citizens in The Bahamas that private charter is available in the country and some operators have confirmed their availability to provide flights into the United States from the Family Islands.
It encouraged U.S. citizens to contact these charter companies directly to determined availability.
The charter companies listed, included Air Care 1; All Bahamas Courier Services; Island Winds; Makers Air; Trans Island Airways; Tropic Air Charters; Tropic Ocean Airways and Tropix/Island Wings Limited — though the embassy noted it was not endorsing the named operators.
However, the embassy said the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority has advised that domestic commercial flights from the Family Islands to Nassau are unauthorized under the emergency orders.
Any international commercial flight currently scheduled to provide direct flights to the U.S. or Canada must arrive in The Bahamas empty, it said.
“As we have seen passenger volume has led many flights to be cancelled with little or no notice,” the embassy said.
“Furthermore, Bahamian officials have publicly discussed the likelihood of extending this emergency order until the end of April. As a result, it could be several weeks or longer until commercial flights to these islands return.”