DPM: No one will visit if COVID-19 numbers keep rising

Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday nobody will visit The Bahamas if the spread of COVID-19 isn’t brought under control.

“It’s just a matter of us making sure we do the things that we need to do to protect ourselves and give ourselves the opportunity to rebound because unfortunately there’s far too many of us still going out and being irresponsible,” he told reporters outside Cabinet.

“And this virus can only spread if we don’t do the things that we need to do, that we know we are supposed to do to protect each other.

“I always say nobody is coming to this country, no economic activity can flourish, if we have rising cases of COVID. We have to do our part. And if we can do that – yes, it’s a sacrifice, two, three weeks, a month of sacrifice – but if we can do that, we can get this thing under control and we can go about our lives.”

The comments came as he noted that the government is planning for tourism to begin to ramp up around November. However, he said the announcement that major hotels will not be reopening in October, as previously indicated, will delay the planned recovery.

“We have always said that we do not expect tourism to really ramp up until the late fall, November time frame,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it is a fact that the major hotels have announced that they won’t be ready in time to meet that date. That does put some difficulty or delay some of the recovery that we anticipated will happen. But, as I said earlier, we do hope that some of the smaller properties, the AirBnB type properties, will be able to pick up some slack, not obviously to the level of what we will lose by not having the major hotels, but hopefully will be able to provide some level activity for the community and for people to be able to at least make a couple of dollars.”

In the House of Assembly last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis called for Bahamians to sacrifice for three weeks “for a lifetime of success”. The three weeks he asked for would take the country to October 7.

The Ministry of Tourism targeted October 15 as the date for hotels to resume full operations and for beaches to open fully.

Major resorts like Baha Mar and Atlantis, however, have not yet announced opening dates.

There has been no indication that the government intends to ease restrictions put in place for anyone traveling to The Bahamas to be tested for COVID-19 within five days of travel and to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or for the duration of their stay in the country if it is shorter.

There are over 3,400 cases of COVID-19 in the country. 

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