Central and South Abaco MP James Albury said that more than 300 Abaconians seeking to return home would likely have to quarantine at a government facility on New Providence or Grand Bahama before being allowed to travel to Abaco.
Noting that the decision has not been finalized, Albury told The Nassau Guardian on Saturday that “there’s a very fine line there to walk verses trying to get people home and protecting the island from an outbreak” of COVID-19.
“What I will say to that is there’s going to be a quarantine process in place,” Albury said.
“I would imagine that’s going to be very similar, at least when we talk about persons who are traveling internationally, a process very similar to what the current would be with the recent batch of Bahamians who were repatriated….”
On May 8, a total of 183 Bahamians were allowed to return to New Providence and Grand Bahama after being stuck abroad after the government closed the country’s borders in late March in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals were processed by the Ministry of Health, with some being housed at government-appointed quarantine facilities.
Albury said many Abaconians were displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian last September.
They are trying to return to continue repairs on their homes, according to Albury, as most homes were destroyed during the monster Category 5 storm.
“The number increases usually by one or two each day, so I’d feel comfortable saying that we have upwards of 300 individuals who are seeking to travel at this moment,” he said.
“They’re spread out. The primary places are in New Providence and in Florida, but that’s not the extent of it. There’s also some in Canada and other parts of the U.S. and other parts of The Bahamas as well.
“[W]hat I’ve done at this point is I wanted to make sure that we didn’t have anyone unaccounted for, because some persons are displaced because of COVID and they happened to be abroad when that happened.
“But I think it’s important to remember that many of these persons are abroad or away from Abaco because in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, they would have been elsewhere to get their children in school and set their families up somewhere where they could be comfortable.”
Albury added, “I know there is a system in the works that will allow persons to travel between the Family Islands, with keeping in proper safety guidelines, and I believe we’ll hear more on that in the very near future.
“My goal right now is to make sure that all those persons, whether they’re in [New Providence] or Florida or elsewhere, that we know where they are and we know what their needs are so that when the time comes we can facilitate the travel as quickly as possible.”