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Islands remain closed because of int’l airports

Eleuthera, Exuma and San Salvador were not allowed to resume normal commercial activity because they have the capacity for direct international flights, Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, health advisor to the prime minister, said yesterday.

However, it remains unclear why this was a factor in the decision given that international travel into those islands has been banned since March 27 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Part of the consideration was direct international flights into those islands,” Dahl-Regis said.

“For example, Club Med on San Salvador receives direct international flights from France and Italy. We know that with surveillance activities, we want not to open up those islands to commercial activities because that would certainly be a challenge to monitoring the activities there.”

She added, “We are looking at the interministerial surveillance of those islands to look at the traffic flows to the island. And we are getting particular guidance on that matter.

“Many on the local team are asking us to phase-in because of the traffic that is occurring on island, particularly from pleasure vessels.”

Club Med has been closed since March and is not expected to reopen until this fall.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen told The Tribune this week that he did not know why certain islands have not been allowed to open for business.

“Normal” commercial activity has been allowed to resume on Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco, Andros, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay.

No case of COVID-19 has been confirmed on any of those islands.

Exuma, Eleuthera, San Salvador and the Berry Islands have also not had any cases, but remain closed.

In a national address on Sunday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a procedure to allow travel between islands, which requires people to apply for a COVID-19 travel card.

Health officials said since the process for receiving applications began on Wednesday, there have been over 1,000 queries about inter-island travel.

They noted that so far 17 people were cleared for travel. They said they were people from the Disaster Relief Authority who needed to get to Abaco yesterday morning.

There have been 97 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

Eleven people have died and 44 have recovered so far.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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