Transport Minister Renward Wells.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
MINISTER of Transport Renward Wells said yesterday that while the government is still discussing when commercial cruise ships will be allowed entry into the country, “it’s not going to happen” until the country’s economy has been re-opened.
Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, he told reporters: “As you know the competent authority under the emergency orders is the entity that is making those decisions, there has been a request from a number of cruise lines as to whether or not they can resume services.
“The government of the country is looking as to when that can happen, but it’s not going to happen before we actually open up the economy.”
Last month, the government closed the country’s seaports to regional and international seafaring and private boats to stop the spread of COVID-19 virus. Only cargo ships are allowed entry into the country.
On Monday, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line said that sailings to the Bahamas will resume on June 13 for its Grand Celebration vessel, and on July 10 with the Grand Classica.“We appreciate the support of our valued guests, partners, regulatory agencies, staff and crew during this challenging time,” said Oneil Khosa, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s chief executive. “We are utilising this time to ensure that we are ready for our guests once we resume cruising.
“Travellers will be seeking a quick and safe getaway once leisure travel fully restores, and we look forward to welcoming them onboard for a unique, short-cruise getaway to paradise.”
When asked whether the dates had been approved by officials, the minister replied: “They may like to resume in June but obviously, as the prime minister constantly says, we’re going to be guided by the medical professionals as to whether or not when we’re going to open the economy.”Speaking in the House of Assembly on Monday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said his National COVID-19 Coordination Committee has began planning for the gradual reopening of the country, a process consisting of six phases that officials surmise will culminate in the resumption of international travel and full operation of hotels.
Acknowledging that the Bahamas will have to live with the COVID-19 threat for the foreseeable future, Dr Minnis added: “For the immediate term at least, we will need protocols and a strategy that will allow us to re-open our society and our economy in a way that protects the health and well-being of Bahamians and residents. We must establish and adhere to a way of doing things that will allow us to open back up in a responsible manner.
“Such re-opening will be gradual and deliberate. At each step, proper health and physical distancing protocols will be mandatory and will be enforced.
“…This is not the time to be timid. This is the time to be bold. This is the time to be courageous,” he charged. “We are in a new era, so we must think in new ways and think outside of the narrow confines of what is necessary or possible.”