PM says RBDF has been mobilized to protect family island borders

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) has been mobilized to fortify family island borders to prevent the potential import of COVID-19, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday.

“Incoming pleasure craft will not be allowed to dock at any port in The Bahamas,” he said in an address in the House of Assembly.

“An amended order will shortly be promulgated, which will speak to further restrictions as it relates to protecting the borders of our Family Islands and their settlements and communities.

“Notwithstanding the return to the 24-hour curfew, all residents of Bimini are advised to stay at home and indoors.”

Minnis said that protocols for yachts and pleasure craft that are already in the country are still being developed, but noted that people onboard will be encouraged to return to their home countries.

“The main purpose of [the protocols] is to encourage as many of these people already within Bahamian territorial waters to return to their countries of origin for the duration of the pandemic,” he said.

Minnis said that while cruise ships without passengers are being allowed to temporarily seek shelter in Bahamian ports and waters, there are stringent protocols in place monitoring the ships and their crew.

“For example, no shipboard personnel may disembark the ship at any time or for any purpose without the prior written permission by and only on specific terms set by the competent authority, which is the prime minister,” he said.

“The protocols also outline security, medical and operational guidelines.

“The government may, at any time, supplement, amend or rescind all or any part of the protocols and issue any instructions or prohibitions with regard to a specific ship or circumstance as it sees fit.”

So far, there have been 33 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas with five deaths.

Minnis announced wider shutdown measures to contain the spread of the virus, including a five-day lockdown beginning on Wednesday at 9 p.m. and a complete shutdown every weekend in April.

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