Like its neighbor 50 miles to the west, the Bahamas is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases after loosening the restrictions designed to contain the coronavirus in an effort to reopen its economy. But unlike Florida, the island nation is taking drastic steps to nip the second wave in the bud.
The Bahamas will close all of its airports and seaports to visitors from the United States starting on Wednesday. It’s a drastic move, but it’s one that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says is necessary.
“Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy,” said Minnis. “It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.”
The United States sends more tourists to the Bahamas than any other country, which means that the economic consequences of the closure will be huge.
“Our current situation demands decisive action, if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus,” Minnis said. “We cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun. Many priorities must be balanced, be they health, social and economic.”
The move is bad news for the cruise lines that, despite the fact that COVID-19 spreads easily on their ships, are offering bookings starting in August, many of which are scheduled to stop in the Bahamas.
But Minnis is betting that the short term economic crunch will make the pandemic less painful in the long term.
“If we address the current increase in confirmed cases as quickly as possible, Grand Bahama can return to a greater sense of normalcy as soon as possible.”