Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) military ships have created a blockade on the high seas in an attempt to restrict sea travel in accordance with emergency measures intended to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the country.
“In enforcing the Emergency Powers Order of COVID-19, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force has stepped up security efforts to ensure the safety of the Bahamian residents,” the RBDF said in a statement.
“Defense force military vessels have established military presence with blockades off the northern Bahamas to ensure the adherence relative to the closure of ports/harbors as per emergency orders.
“Sections 10 and 11 of the COVID-19 orders emphasizes the restriction on international travel and restriction on domestic travel.’”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, in an unprecedented attempt to contain COVID-19 in The Bahamas, two weeks ago ordered a 24-hour national curfew and the closure of airports, docks, ports and beaches throughout the country, with certain exceptions.
Minnis ordered, “All seaports shall be closed to regional and international seafaring and private boating; and no visitor shall be permitted to enter and disembark for any reason including transmitting through The Bahamas.”
He also ordered that no one travel on mail boats or sail between islands, except for transport of freight, or use nonessential interisland private commercial sea transport.
That lockdown was originally set to expire on March 31, but was extended to April 8.
In a social media post, the RBDF noted: “Fifteen foreign vessels were permitted to depart North Bimini en route to the USA consistent with the emergency orders to prevent potential community spread, thus ensuring the closure of Bimini Harbour.
“Additionally, the officers and marines of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force continue to assist law enforcement agencies with the enforcement of the mandatory curfew as they join in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.”
Blockades could also be seen across New Providence over the weekend as police force and defense force officers enforced the complete shutdown of all services, again with few exceptions, ordered by Minnis.