Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced another national lockdown starting August 4 at 10 PM as a means of attempting to slow the second wave of COVID-19 cases.
After recording their first COVID-19 case in March, a nationwide 24-hour curfew and border shutdown were subsequently announced to curb the spread of the virus.
But shortly after allowing non-essential travel to the island on July 1, The Bahamas almost immediately saw an increase in cases. As of July 10, the island had confirmed 108 cases and 11 deaths.
In the following weeks, the island saw over 550 additional cases (679 confirmed cases and 14 deaths as of August 3rd). Many of the island’s tourists came from Florida, which now has almost half a million cases.
In a national address this afternoon, Dr. Minnis said that, “this battle against COVID-19 has been a terrible strain on our country.”
Minnis said health officials have seen indicators that point to the need for a national lockdown. He also said that ICU beds throughout the islands are at capacity and that non-critical care beds are approaching capacity.
“The national lockdown will be for a minimum of two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, we will examine the data and determine whether an extension is necessary,” Minnis said. During the lockdown, health officials on the island will also commence enhanced contact tracing, with cases expecting to rise as a result.
During the lockdown food stores, water depots, pharmacies (for curbside or takeout) and gas stations (for external usage only) will only be open for three days out of the week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There will be no curbside dining or takeaway retail.
During the national lockdown, the National Food Distribution Task Force will continue to operate. There will only be food distribution on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays depending on your zone.
Live streaming for religious services will be allowed to continue during the lockdown and funerals will be permitted. Exercise will also be permitted from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
An assessment will be made of Grand Bahama when its lockdown ends on Friday. A determine will be made whether an extension is necessary on Grand Bahama.
Ironically, Minnis also said that there is no change in the travel policy. The Bahamas reversed course on closing its border to U.S. travelers. The government last week announced that ALL tourists, including those coming from America, are now expected to quarantine for 14 days, with the option to spend their two-week quarantine in a private residence or rented accommodation, such as an Airbnb, where it’s possible to isolate in a bedroom with a connected bathroom. Travelers can also quarantine in a hotel room with a connected bathroom or on a private boat. Guests that choose to quarantine at a hotel will be able to use the hotel’s facilities, though casinos and nightclubs will be closed.
In addition to the mandatory quarantine period, travelers must also apply for a Bahamas health visa and have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited lab that was taken within 10 days.
After the 14-day quarantine, travelers will need to test negative on another COVID-19 test in order to leave quarantine. People who want to leave the country before the quarantine period ends can do so any time, without taking a COVID-19 test.