Some chaos is anticipated this morning as 200 Bahamians and residents of The Bahamas fly from Florida to New Providence and Grand Bahama via Bahamasair, but Bahamas Consul General in Miami Linda Treco-Mackey has a clear message for those not on the manifests: Don’t show up.
“It was originally 190 and…because results came in the last two days, persons who were pending now meet the criteria because we have the results in, so we have 200 people on our manifest,” Treco-Mackey said.
She added, “We’re anticipating some chaos [Friday] morning, because we know that our good Bahamians will show up to the airport…who are not registered, because they hear that a flight is going home.
“…So there’s one message: the manifest is closed. So anyone who shows up who’s not on the list, will not be allowed to go on the flight.”
Treco-Mackey said this “first phase of our repatriation” will include Bahamians with medical conditions, mothers “who have had babies since they were here” and essential workers.
“There’s going to be some spacing in the airline [and] everybody will also be required to wear masks,” she said.
“Only family members who have been residing in the same location will be allowed to sit next to each other if they wish to, because there’s no need for that as they’ve always been together.
“Everyone on the flight would have been tested and are negative, and even that has been provided to the Ministry of Health.”
Treco-Mackey specified that travelers are still permitted just two bags, and that upon landing they will be met by government representatives from “immigration, customs, national security, Ministry of Health and foreign affairs”.
“Once they land and they’ve passed through all of the immigration and customs issues, then Ministry of Health takes over, so they will determine what happens from there on,” Treco-Mackey said.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Wednesday, this group has “agreed to adhere to the strict regime determined by the Ministry of Health”.
“Government facilities will be provided for quarantine, when that determination is made by the Ministry of Health,” the MOFA statement read.
The long-anticipated arrival comes amid controversy that heightened in the last week over the landing of permanent residents on private aircraft.
The arrival of a group of six on April 29 led to the resignation of Dr. Duane Sands as minister of health, over what the prime minister termed a breach of protocol regulating the return of Bahamians and permanent residents.
Hundreds of Bahamians have been stuck abroad since the prime minister ordered the borders closed on March 27 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.