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Return home flights to resume this week

After suspending return flights carrying Bahamian citizens and residents, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that Bahamasair will conduct two flights this week — one on Thursday and one on Saturday.

Unlike the first flights sponsored by the Bahamas government just over a week ago, these flights will not be free. Each passenger must pay $150 to return.

Each flight has 138 seats available.

Those wishing to return to The Bahamas on one of those flights must book online and email a copy of their negative COVID-19 test to Bahamasair, which will then verify with Bahamian health officials that the lab where the test was conducted is approved.

In a national address yesterday, Minnis said, “The system has been streamlined in order to avoid what happened during the last exercise when a passenger who had a COVID-19-positive result overseas was allowed to board a return flight home. Subsequent testing by the Ministry of Health following the passenger’s arrival has shown this individual is now COVID-19 negative.”

A flight to Grand Bahama will be accommodated if necessary, he said.

“Those who are seeking to return home through this repatriation exercise and who meet the required protocols, including a COVID-19-negative test, may book directly through Bahamasair. Those who already have a return ticket on Bahamasair should call the airline’s ticket office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. starting Monday,” the prime minister said.

“Passengers will be required to present the COVID-19-negative test result to a Bahamasair agent before being allowed to board the aircraft. A representative from the consul general will be present to validate the test result.”

When the government closed Bahamian borders on March 27, it left hundreds of citizens and residents stranded abroad and desperate to get home.

The effort to bring citizens and residents home began with two flights out of Florida to New Providence and Grand Bahama on May 8.

However, the repatriation flights were suspended only days later after it was revealed that a Grand Bahama man on one of the flights had tested positive for COVID-19.

The government’s policy is that residents and citizens wishing to return to The Bahamas would have to test negative for COVID-19 to be allowed entry. It remains unclear how the passenger was able to get on the flight.

Health officials, however, say they have now determined that the man posed no threat to other passengers, as he tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival in The Bahamas.

Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, advisor to the prime minister, said last week that it is possible that the man’s first COVID-19 test result was a false positive.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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