NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas government has announced the closure of its quarantine facilities as the country moved into another phase of re-opening its economy in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that the quarantine facility will be disabled on Friday, adding that this also applies to facilities in New Providence and Grand Bahama.
“Returning Bahamians and residents will no longer be required to quarantine on returning home but will be monitored by the Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Unit and Hubbcat monitoring app if necessary. To date, the government has facilitated the return of close to 500 Bahamians and residents on Bahamasair,” Minnis said.
He said starting June 13, the weekend lockdowns will be lifted.
“We have decided to maintain the 9.00 p.m. to 5.00 a.m. (local time) curfew Monday to Sunday for a period of time. We are doing this in order to continue to open in a gradual and sustained manner,” Minnis said, adding that effective June 8th beach and park restrictions will be removed for the islands of Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Spanish Wells, Exuma and San Salvador.
But he said that beaches and parks on New Providence, Paradise Island, Grand Bahama, and Bimini will remain close and that from Monday, exercise will be permitted between 5.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. “beyond one’s immediate neighbourhood every day of the week.
“You may continue to exercise with your immediate family, however group exercise and sporting activities and events are still restricted. All professional services and commercial activity may resume regular operating hours but must be closed by 7.00 p.m. daily. This does not include restaurants, bars, hair salons, barbers, cinemas, gyms and cultural and entertainment facilities, which are to remain closed,” Minnis said.
He said the country has entered the fourth phase of the re-opening exercises and that places of worship may resume regular office hours.
“Fishing is allowed with more than two people in a vessel. Physical distancing and proper sanitization and hygiene measures are required. Masks should be worn. Effective Friday, June 12th, restaurants may re-open with outdoor seating only. There will be no indoor seating allowed at this point. Effective Monday, June 15th, hair salons and barbershops may resume operations following certification by the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Prime Minister Minnis said that his administration had approved US$16 million dollars for the national food distribution programme and that this will provide food for approximately 80 thousand people for 12 weeks.
The Bahamas is Friday observing Labour Day and Minnis said that the occasion “is a very difficult Labour Day for many, including the many thousands of Bahamians who have lost their jobs or have been laid off. “I assure you that one of our most urgent and overriding concerns is the creation of jobs and opportunities for work as we outlined in the recent budget communication.
“Just like the rest of the world, COVID-19 has put us in the worst economic situation since independence. We are going to do everything in our power to get our economy moving as quickly as possible in the medium- and long-term. I am going to work day after day to restore as much of our economy as quickly as possible, Minnis added.