The islands, which had previously opened their doors to all tourists on July 1, have now banned entry for all those traveling in from the US.
On Sunday, July 19, Bahamas’ Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that Americans will be banned from entering the islands starting Wednesday, July 22, due to the rising number of cases in the US.
The islands had begun their phased opening earlier on June 15, welcoming private yachts and planes and opening to commercial tourism later on July 1. Since then, COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas have risen at an alarming rate.
Faced with the staggering rise in both local and American cases, Minnis was forced to close the country’s borders to the US. “Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy,” said Prime Minister Minnis in a national address. “Our current situation demands decisive action if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus. We cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun. Many priorities must be balanced, be they health, social and economic.”
In his statement, Minnis also announced Bahamasair, the countries national airline would also stop flying to the United States immediately. Incoming flights from Canada, the UK and the EU will still be permitted as long as visitors show proof of a negative PCR test. Private US boats, yachts and aviation will also still be permitted.
[Featured image: Peter Hansen via Unsplash]