Don’t rush and botch border reopening
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
With countries around the world recording a resurgence of the potentially deadly coronavirus COVID-19, The Bahamas has to proceed with caution in its intent to reopen borders as this, although very much necessary from an economic standpoint, effectively puts the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bahamians, as well as the country’s reputation, at risk.
With the July 1 target date for reopening borders fast approaching, the Minnis Administration has already had to backtrack on one decision its Tourism minister wanted to push ahead with – allowing visitors entry without first proving they were COVID-19-free.
Only after appeals were made from the Opposition, medical experts, and former Health Minister Duane Sands, who resigned from that post well over a month ago amidst a similar COVID-19-related scandal, did the Administration and Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar relent to make it mandatory for anyone entering the country from abroad to first test negative for the virus.
It is no secret that the majority of the people who visit these shores every year, come from the neighbouring United States of America – the same U. S. where there have been a staggering 2.32 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, with 122,000 deaths recorded so far, and with a number of states now reporting a second wave of the virus.
Unlike the US and elsewhere around the world where confirmed cases and death tolls have been in the hundreds of thousands and beyond, The Bahamas has recorded 104 cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths. Of the 104 confirmed cases, some 74 people have been declared clinically recovered and there have been no reports of anyone dying from the infectious disease since April 24th.
Only three islands – New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini and one cay, Cat Cay, were affected. Whether credit for the low incidences can be given to practice of the established protocols like social distancing at 6ft or more, constantly washing your hands and using hand sanitizer when you can’t, and wearing masks when out in the public, or government’s curfew and lockdown orders, the fact is that the virus has mostly been contained in The Bahamas.
Those cautioning the government’s move say it’s important to keep it that way.
Unfortunately, D’Aguilar revealed last week that the government is still working on the details just days ahead of the July 1 reopening.
Welcoming visitors and their wallets into The Bahamas, they feel, should not be a rushed and botched effort, resulting in a reputation among travellerss as a COVID-19 hotspot and putting the country’s citizens at risk of exposure.