Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis has announced the resumption of commercial activity on the islands of Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros and the further relaxation of measures related to exercise and certain business and service operating hours.
Effective Monday 18 May, Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros will join the southern islands of Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island and Rum Cay which have been cleared as part of a gradual re-opening of the Family Islands.
The 24-hour curfew and lockdowns remain in effect for the cleared islands.
While The Bahamas remains in Phase 1B of the five-phase economic and social re-opening plan, the Government has started to introduce components of Phase 2, the Prime Minster said in a televised live COVID-19 National Address on Sunday 17 May.
“As we continue to make progress, we will act on the advice of health officials on the phased and gradual reopening of various islands and certain areas of our economy, as well as a new normal for daily life that will be with us for some time,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
As a part of the gradual re-opening, construction companies on New Providence and Grand Bahama are now allowed to operate on Saturdays from 7am to 1pm, in. addition to weekday operations.
To facilitate hurricane preparedness, home and hardware stores will now also be allowed to operate in-store hours on Mondays, 8am to 8pm. This also applies to manufacturers of hurricane-proof windows and other hurricane-related products, said Prime Minister Minnis.
Pharmacies may now operate from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday for the general public, and Saturday 9am to 5pm for essential workers only.
Also, exercise measures have been further relaxed during the weekend lockdowns. Exercise may now take place on Saturday and Sunday from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. in one’s immediate neighbourhood.
On those Family Islands allowed to resume commercial activity, residents will be allowed to catch crabs for themselves and for sale during the evenings of weekday curfew and weekend lockdowns.
The Prime Minister also announced that the Government is well advanced in its planning for the beginning of the re-opening of the country’s tourism sector and to allow for travel in and out of The Bahamas.
“Our resorts, our airports and our seaports are finalizing the health and safety protocols that will be necessary for us to provide for a re-opening,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“Taking into account what is being done within the region and around the world, these extensive guidelines will be designed to provide for reasonable assurance that travel and leisure is generally safe.”
The Prime Minister said that any such re-opening to commercial-scale traffic will also be dependent on the ongoing stabilization of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Bahamas.
It will also only be applied to those islands where the outbreak has been contained.
As of now, the Government is looking at a possible opening date for commercial travel on or before 1 July, said Prime Minister Minnis.
These dates may change depending on the circumstances, he noted.
“I want to repeat however that this date is not final. It will be adjusted if we see a deterioration in the COVID-19 infection trends or if we determine that the protocols and procedures are not in place sufficiently to warrant an opening,” said the Prime Minister.