The Bahamas government announced on Monday, August 17, that a complete lockdown will be in effect on New Providence until August 25 following the continued rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases on the island. Under the tightened restrictions, all non-essential movement is prohibited and residents are expected to remain in their homes, with only essential health and government services continuing to operate. Flights and ferry services to the island will also be suspended during this period and all businesses, including food shops and private pharmacies, closed. Those undertaking essential travel are required to seek prior permission from the local police.
The lockdown on the island of Grand Bahama has also been extended by a week until August 25, with the current restrictions remaining unchanged. Essential services and businesses are permitted to open Monday - Friday between 07:00 and 17:00 (local time). Essential workers will be permitted an additional day to access these goods on Saturdays between 07:00 and 18:00.
A public state of emergency in the Bahamas was previously extended until September 30.
Limited international commercial passenger flights to the Bahamas have resumed, except those to Grand Bahama and New Providence, but all travelers are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a government facility upon arrival at their own expense. Travelers over the age of ten are also required to present a COVID-19 PCR test with a negative result, taken within ten days prior to arrival. Inter-island travel remains restricted but travel between designated low-risk (level one) islands is permitted.
Face masks are mandatory in all public places and must be worn for entry into supermarkets, pharmacies, and other businesses.
A government-issued identification must be carried and presented at police checkpoints, which have been established on several islands.
As of Tuesday, August 18, 1329 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the Bahamas, with 19 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.