Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday announced relaxed restrictions for businesses, including indoor dining at restaurants and in-store shopping at retail businesses. But those new rules in respect of businesses do not apply to New Providence, where Minnis said community spread of COVID-19 is still taking place.
The new rules apply to Acklins, Abaco, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama, Inagua and Mayaguana (islands in the second schedule of the emergency orders). Other islands — those in the first schedule — already benefit from a more relaxed environment.
Businesses, agencies, establishments and institutions — subject to safety protocols with the exception of high risk activities — are permitted to open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on those islands in the second schedule.
The high risk prohibited businesses are casinos, bars, discos, cinemas, gyms, regattas, festivals and similar activities.
Indoor dining is permitted as long as restaurants adhere to health protocols, including mask wearing and social distancing.
Fish fry establishments are still only permitted to offer takeaway and curbside services.
“The changes announced today mean that businesses that have not been permitted to open or that were opened with restrictions, may now operate following the public health measures,” Minnis said during a press conference on Grand Bahama.
“They may determine their operating hours, operating from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., and this is except for New Providence. Let me again note that the risk of spreading COVID-19 is higher with regard to indoor activity and lower in regard to outdoor activity.
“This is why we have continued to make certain distinctions in terms of outdoor and indoor activities.”
Social gatherings with no more than 10 people are also permitted on those islands — again, this does not include New Providence.
Minnis encouraged individuals on the permitted islands to attend or host gatherings “in a safe manner”.
Beaches and parks on all islands are permitted to open from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Individuals may now exercise in their neighborhoods between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Outdoor group exercise is permitted to resume between 5 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Inter-island commercial air travel is permitted to resume on Wednesday.
Charters, including inter-island charters, are now permitted to operate “provided that individuals comply with the inter-island travel orders”.
“COVID-19 test results are no longer required for inter-island travel except for those traveling from New Providence,” Minnis said.
“However, individuals traveling from islands included in the second schedule, including Grand Bahama, will continue to be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival at their destination.”
Exemptions from quarantine may be requested and will be given in cases of emergency, medical or other extenuating circumstances, according to the prime minister.
He said that travel protocol is subject to change.
“What that means, individuals traveling from Grand Bahama to any part of The Bahamas, no longer require a COVID test,” Minnis said.
“To be clear, if individuals travel to New Providence and seek to return to any other island, they will be required to obtain a COVID-19 RT-PCR negative test and the 14-day quarantine once you’ve left Nassau.”
Private medical facilities and dentists are permitted to provide services outside of the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and medical services during curfew in cases of emergencies.
Worship services are permitted in-sanctuary on New Providence as long as health protocols are followed.