American tourists have been banned from entering the Bahamas, due to coronavirus concerns. The island commonwealth made the difficult decision after cases of the virus have begun to spike again in the United States. Visitors from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union will be permitted to visit, as long as they prove they have tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 10 days, per a report from the Miami Herald.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis issued a statement on the news, saying, "Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy." He added, "It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders." Minnis has been serving as the Bahamian acting health minister since May. The island nation's officials had to make the call to refuse access to Americans after the Bahamas Ministry of Health registered 15 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing its total number of cases to 153. "Our current situation demands decisive action, if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus," Minnis explained. "We cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun. Many priorities must be balanced, be they health, social and economic."
The Bahamas will close its doors to American citizens starting this week, the country’s prime minister said Sunday, announcing a ban on commercial flights and vessels from the U.S. There is no ban on travel from Canada or the European Union. https://t.co/8cgbNFP1yw pic.twitter.com/0BpscZXdct— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 20, 2020
In addition to the limited influx of tourists, Minnis also revealed that Grand Bahama will now have a curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m local time. He has also ordered all indoor dining to close, and all beaches — both public and private — and parks, until further notice. "All congregant activities and gatherings, inclusive of religious services, weddings and funerals and sporting activities will not be allowed, effective Monday." Minnis said.
Furthermore, Grand Bahama’s international and domestic borders will be closed to all incoming and outgoing flights and sea vessels, starting Wednesday. "If efforts to decrease the number of cases are unsuccessful, other restrictive measures may be recommended, including a lockdown beginning Friday the 24th of July," Minnis said. "If we address the current increase in confirmed cases as quickly as possible, Grand Bahama can return to a greater sense of normalcy as soon as possible."