As the government prepares to bring scores of Bahamians home from the United States, Consul General in Miami Linda Treco-Mackey said yesterday that no Bahamian will be allowed to return without testing negative for COVID-19.
Treco-Mackey said there were 240 Bahamians trying to get home before the prime minister’s announcement that the government is “bringing our people home”.
She said there are currently more than 400 Bahamians seeking to return.
“For those who truly desire to go home when the borders open, they have to show proof of testing for COVID-19,” Treco-Mackey told The Nassau Guardian.
She added, “Students, yes, they are still priority, but we are not overlooking persons who are legitimately stranded and have return tickets for when the country shut down.
“They are pretty much similarly our priority as well. We’re finding that there are people who were here from December and some are evacuees who are here, and they’re all trying to take advantage of the situation.”
On March 27, the government announced that the Bahamian borders will close to all incoming individuals, including citizens and residents, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the government will allow Bahamians to return to the country but did not provide any details.
He said all Bahamians returning from the United States will be quarantined at a secure facility upon entry to The Bahamas.
Treco-Mackey said Bahamasair will likely be used for the exercise, noting that its jets can hold about 130 passengers.
“One aircraft will not be sufficient especially if the use of the middle seat, if they decide to go that route, will not be available which means [fewer] passengers would be allowed to travel per aircraft,” Treco-Mackey told The Guardian.
She said the government hasn’t made a decision as to whether it will use more than one plane or make several trips.
“We now have to reconsider how we’re going to go about it in light of COVID,” Treco-Mackey said.
“Maybe Bahamasair will have to adopt what other airlines are doing. I think they will be forced to consider that. The middle seat will have to be unused because it gets too close in proximity.”
She continued, “The government is trying to make a policy now on how to return Bahamians home and I think it’s a work in progress. They haven’t completed that. [The Ministry of] Foreign Affairs is addressing [the] how, what and when.”
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