The Bahamas, that is heavily dependent on tourism, reopened their borders earlier this month amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, since reopening, the Bahamas has had 49 new coronavirus cases, according to an AFP report. It has seen only 153 confirmed cases and 11 deaths since the start of the pandemic, the report adds.
The Bahamas is a global tourist destination that’s home to 400,000 inhabitants. Last year, it was hit by Hurricane Dorian that affected the business, economy and livelihood in a large way.
Despite being on a road to recovery, it shut its borders on April 6, battening down as the pandemic gathered force around the world.
The Bahamian government has now decided to ban travellers from countries where coronavirus cases are surging incessantly, especially the United States. The move comes into force to prevent the further spread of the virus in the Caribbean nation.
All international commercial flights have been banned from entering the Bahamas, effectively from Wednesday. The only exemptions are visitors from the United Kingdom, European Union and Canada who have tested negative, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a nationally televised address on Sunday (local time).
Sea vessels carrying commercial passengers will also not be permitted to enter. However, private international flights, charters and yachts from all countries will continue to be allowed.
National airline Bahamasair will end flights to the US immediately and a number of beaches and parks have been closed until further notice, according to Minnis.
“Our current situation demands decisive action if we are to avoid being overrun and being defeated by this virus,” Minnis said in his address.
The Bahamas’ move to ban most international travellers, especially Americans, is significant as 50 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) worth USD 5.7 billion comes from tourism alone, with the majority of the 5.5 million tourists who visit the Bahamas each year coming from the US, according to the Bahamas Investment Authority.
With the US beating its own daily record of new coronavirus cases at least nine times in a month, Minnis was adamant in saying that the Bahamas needed to focus on “saving lives and limiting spread of the virus.”
“The better we are at this, the more our economy could open up and people could make a living,” he said.
— with ANI inputs
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