COVID-19 Surge Prompts Bahamas Lockdown

The Bahamas has entered a national lockdown for a minimum of two weeks to curb the “rapid” spread of COVID-19 across the territory said Dr. Hubert Minnis, the Bahamas’ prime minister, in a national address Monday.

Minnis’ decision was based on the advice of health officials, who at the end of the two-week period will make an assessment to determine if the lockdown needs to be extended, the prime minister said in a Bahamas Tribune report.

Under the lockdown, most of the territory’s commercial sector will be idled, including take-out restaurant and curbside dining, along with most retail outlets except hardware stores. Grocery stores will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the general public and Saturdays for essential workers. Pharmacies will be permitted to operate on specified days from curbside operations or take-out windows.

In addition, all businesses and offices are required to suspend operations, Minnis said, with staff working remotely where possible. Bahamas government personnel will monitor shopping and the number of people traveling in vehicles. Private medical facilities will be permitted to provide emergency medical care and immunization services on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The move comes weeks after the Bahamas re-opened its borders to U.S. travelers, with the stipulation that all visitors were subject to mandatory 14-day quarantines. Three days earlier, the territory had closed its borders to American visitors as COVID-19 infection rates surged in several U.S. states.

Minnis did not announce any changes to the current travel policy during Monday’s address. While U.S. travelers are ostensibly permitted to travel to the territory, visitors are liable for the cost of the mandatory two-week quarantine in a government facility, and additionally must test negative for COVID-19 at the end of 14 days, with testing also at their expense.

Minnis sought to re-assure Bahamas residents in the somber address. “We are taking the required and necessary measures to comprehensively battle COVID-19. “Once we have reduced community spread, we can reopen parts of our economy again.”

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