Bahamas looking to allow commercial flights from 1 July


NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas government says it is considering allowing business trips to the archipelago on or before July 1, but insisted the date was not final and would depend on the current state of the coronavirus (COVID -19) in the country.

The Bahamas has so far recorded 96 positive cases of the virus detected in China last December and related to the deaths of more than 300,000 people and the infection of 4.5 million others worldwide.

The Bahamas has reported 11 deaths, but over the past four days, the island chain has not recorded any new cases of the virus.

On a radio and television broadcast Sunday night, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that as the country continues to move forward in its efforts to curb the spread of the virus, it would act on the advice of health officials to gradually reopen several islands and certain areas of our economy, as well as a new normalcy for daily life that will be with us for some time.

“We need to comply with regional and global health protocols as we reopen our economy and society,” he said, and reiterated that “if health officials advise us, we will return to certain phases or re-impose certain restrictions in order to limit community outreach “.

“I fully understand the anxiety and frustration of many Bahamas and residents to reopen our economy. But we must act with prudence and good judgment. We must balance the health, economic and social needs of citizens and residents.

“As you know, we are still in phase 1B of the national reopening plan, but we have started to introduce phase 2 components as the country moves fully into the second phase of the plan,” he said, adding that from on Monday, on Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros will now be able to resume commercial activity.

“Let me point this out to all the Family Islands that can resume commercial activity so that the week’s curfews and weekend closing measures remain in place, as well as physical distancing measures and the requirement to wear masks “.

Minnis said the Bahamas are “eager to see how our economy fully opens up to travel to the Bahamas and welcome visitors to our shores.”

He said his administration “is well advanced in our planning for the beginning of the reopening of our tourism sector and to allow travel to the Bahamas and beyond.

“Our resorts, our airports and our seaports are finalizing the safety and health protocols 10 that we will need to anticipate a reopening. Given what is being done in the region and around the world, these extensive guidelines will be designed to provide reasonable assurance that travel and leisure are generally safe. Any such reopening to commercial-scale traffic will also depend on the continued stabilization of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Bahamas.

“At the moment, we are studying a possible date for the opening of commercial trips on the 1st or before today. These dates may vary depending on the circumstances. However, I want to reiterate that this date is not final, “Minnis said, adding that” it will adjust if we see a deterioration in COVID-19 infection trends or if we determine that protocols and procedures are not enough. established to justify an opening. Our openness will depend on your collaboration ”.

He said the government is also about to begin a gradual reopening of inter-island travel and that the Ministry of Health has developed a policy and protocol for the approval and monitoring of people traveling to islands who have resumed l normal business activity.

Minnis said individuals could start applying as of Wednesday and, once the trip is authorized, each traveler will need to present the COVID-19 Travel 22 authorization card to the appropriate ticket agent.

He said the repatriation of Bahamians from abroad will resume this week and that the system has been streamlined to avoid what happened during the last financial year, when a passenger who had a positive COVID- result was allowed. 19 abroad embark on a flight back home.

“Subsequent tests by the Ministry of Health after the arrival of the passengers have shown that this individual is now negative for COVID-19,” Minnis said, adding that two repatriation exercises are scheduled for next week. from Fort Lauderdale, USA, to New Providence.

He said passengers will have to present the negative result of the COVID-19 test to a Bahamasair agent before they are allowed to board the plane.

In his broadcast, Minnis also said that the country, which is still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian last September, is taking steps to deal with the upcoming hurricane season which begins on June 1. .

“To facilitate the preparation of hurricanes, home and hardware stores will now be allowed to operate in store hours on Mondays, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (local time). This is in addition to the Wednesday and Friday store hours at which home and hardware stores are currently allowed to operate, ”Minnis added.