American tourists will be barred from entering the Bahamas amid the resurging COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a national address Sunday.
The rollback comes three weeks after the Bahamas reopened its borders to travelers.
The situation has deteriorated “at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders” July 1, Minnis said. The country had a total of 194 cases, as of Wednesday.
In the address, Minnis announced that the country’s national airline Bahamasair will cease flights to the USA, effective immediately.
To accommodate departing tourists, outgoing commercial flights will be permitted after Wednesday, he said.
Starting Wednesday, international flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter the borders. Minnis said there would be an exception for flights from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union. Visitors by air or sea from these countries will be required to show a negative COVID-19 rapid test result from an accredited lab.
Private boats, yachts and international private aviation, including from the U.S., will still be permitted.
Minnis blamed, without specifying, nearby countries’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic “still raging around the world.”
“In neighboring countries, hospitals are overwhelmed, and deaths are increasing. For some places, it is unclear when or how they will get this virus under control,” Minnis said. His country’s progress in fighting the disease could be reversed, he said, because of how citizens in other countries “are following or ignoring health guidelines.”
“Our current situation demands decisive action, if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus,” Minnis said. “We cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun. Many priorities must be balanced, be they health, social and economic. Chief amongst these though is the health.”