Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday advised Bahamians not to travel abroad “unless absolutely necessary”.
“We’ve opened up our borders,” Minnis said.
“When we look at what happened the last time, the infections were not related to the guests coming in. The infections were related to us going out and, therefore, I would advise Bahamians not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
“One of the reports that we’re getting back [is that] a lot of Bahamians are visiting the neighbors to the north and they are visiting flea markets and other stores and they’re not wearing any masks because that is not a requirement there.”
He said Bahamians should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing while abroad.
Minnis said Bahamians should assume that the “numbers have gone up” in countries north of The Bahamas.
The United States has recorded more than 11.2 million cases of COVID-19. In the last week, the US recorded an average of 150,265 cases per day.
“We are doing well,” Minnis said.
“We are opening up. With many Bahamians running to the northern area, the virus is even worse than it was at that particular time when they brought back such high infection rate.
“They can bring back even worse infection because it’s a higher concentration and, therefore, we advise them [to] travel only if necessary and avoid gatherings.”
On November 1, The Bahamas relaxed certain travel restrictions for entry into the country, specifically the removal of mandatory quarantine upon entry.
The Bahamas reported 104 COVID cases between March 15 and July 1.
Nearly 500 new cases were reported by July 31, following the reopening of the borders, which were closed for several months in an attempt to curtail the spread of the virus. More than 7,000 cases have been reported since July.
At the time of the July reopening, the government allowed citizens and residents to return to The Bahamas without testing if they traveled for less than 72 hours.
On July 19, during a national address, Minnis said, “Grand Bahama has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 cases after being COVID-19-free for a little over two months. The increase in cases coincided with the reinstitution of international flights and passenger sea transport.
“Regrettably, surveillance teams have traced many of the cases to Bahamians returning to The Bahamas.”
Yesterday, while discussing Bahamians traveling abroad, the prime minister said, “…There’s a possibility for even more to be infected because the numbers are higher and, therefore, it’s a greater chance of you being in contact with individuals.
“So, I’d advise Bahamians, if you’re traveling, first and foremost, you should not travel unless absolutely necessary. If you travel, then wear your masks, even in those facilities abroad; protect yourselves.”