At the beginning of June, numerous Caribbean islands including the U.S Virgin Islands and Jamaica began to reopen their borders to leisure travelers in attempts to restart the economy. Since then, other islands from Barbados, Bermuda, and Antigua and Barbuda, have all reopened. However, tourism officials began noticing a steep rise in COVID-19 cases that were traced back to American travelers. As countries begin to start to reopen, many of them are now specifically barring American travelers from entry.
The Bahamas has become the latest country to bar American travelers from entry. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis made the announcement on Sunday in a national address. The move comes only three weeks since the country officially reopened. The Minister has said that the island’s situation has dropped “at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders,” according to USA TODAY. Since the reopening, the country has reported 49 new cases.
Today I announced changes to International travel during my National Address. Read my full remarks here: https://t.co/xBC7n9Os5G pic.twitter.com/fG8mi3wYSX
— Dr Hubert Minnis (@minnis_dr) July 19, 2020
“In neighboring countries, hospitals are overwhelmed and deaths are increasing. For some places it is unclear when or how they will get this virus under control,” said Minnis tells USA TODAY. He added that his country’s progress in fighting the disease can be reversed because of how citizens in other countries “are following or ignoring health guidelines.”
“Our current situation demands decisive action, if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus,” he adds. “We cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun. Many priorities must be balanced, be they health, social and economic. Chief amongst these though is the health.”
The hotel industry has also been drastically affected by the rise in cases. The famous Atlantis Resort, which serves as a huge tourism hub for the island, has recently announced that they will be delaying their opening to protect both employees and guests as they continue to assess the situation. The resort has since partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to launch its Atlantis Clean & Safe Promise to set new health guidelines for the property.
“We have made the difficult decision to extend Atlantis’ closure, prioritizing the health and safety of our team, our guests, and our community first,” said Audrey Oswell, president and managing director of Atlantis in a press statement. While we are excited and energized by the opportunity to welcome our guests with warm Bahamian hospitality, we believe that extending our closure is in the best interest of public health at this time.”