Bahamas bans tourists from US, cites coronavirus concerns

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced over the weekend that the country will block American tourists from entry as U.S. coronavirus numbers continue to surge.

He also announced that flights to the U.S. would be stopped.

The state of the pandemic in the Bahamas, Minnis said, has grown worse “at an exponential rate” since the reopening of international borders, adding that its total cases stand at 153, including 49 new cases since the full reopening of borders July 1.

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"International commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter our borders, except for commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union,” Minnis said in his Sunday address. “This will come into effect as of Wednesday the 22nd of July 2020 at midnight. Bahamasair will cease outgoing flights to the United States of America, effective immediately.”

The prime minister warned that without aggressive border controls, the Bahamas’ progress on the virus could be undone “because of how citizens and residents within countries are following or ignoring health guidelines.”

Florida, which is about 50 miles northwest of the islands, represents one of the Bahamas’ largest tourist markets and has become a major U.S. epicenter of the virus in recent weeks, reporting 12,478 new cases on Sunday.

“As a country we have to do what is right and necessary. If we do not take these measures now, we will pay a higher and deadlier price later,” Minnis said in his address. “At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic we acted early to prevent widespread sickness and death. We must do so once again.”

The announcement comes after the European Union banned U.S. travelers due to the country’s surging coronavirus cases earlier this summer.