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Travel Ban To Stay Two More Months? Tourism Pressure Remains As Foreign Flights May Be Off Until End Of October

Peter Turnquest

Peter Turnquest

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

DESPITE most businesses in New Providence being set to re-open on Monday, Finance Minister Peter Turnquest said he anticipates it will still take several weeks until the government fully re-opens the country’s borders allowing for the resumption of domestic and international travel in all islands.

This comes after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced on Monday the resumption of commercial activity in the capital, which will allow most businesses in New Providence to resume operations under certain restrictions, including restaurants and retail stores.

The news, which came as a surprise to many, was a sharp reversal for Dr Minnis, who just last week announced an immediate seven-day near full lockdown for New Providence in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

However, on Monday, Dr Minnis maintained that new COVID-19 data suggests no hard lockdown is needed at this time for the island. As it relates to the current lockdown provisions, Dr Minnis said the restrictions will remain in place until 5am next Monday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister expressed hope that the eased restrictions will help to revitalise the economy.

He said: “Well, hopefully as we open up, we’ll get the domestic economy started to go again. Hopefully, we will not have any cause to have to go back in a curfew situation or lockdown situation. That will allow for some domestic activity to happen and people to go back to work.

“It’s still going to be a few weeks, I imagine, before we open the borders even for domestic travel, much less for international travel. And so, the tourism sector is going to be under pressure, but hopefully we will have a positive experience with this particular lockdown and we’ll be able to get back to the international travel as quickly as we can.”

Mr Turnquest said while he could not give a definitive date concerning the resumption of international travel, finance officials are eying late October or early November as a potential reopening date.

“I do not have that date,” he said. “I think the Minister of Tourism will be better (able) to answer that question. But from the Ministry of Finance perspective, we’ve always said that we’re looking towards a.. late October to early November opening and that’s where our budget forecasts puts us, so we’ll see. Hopefully, we’ll be able to meet that date.”

Last week, Tourism Parliamentary Secretary Travis Robinson told The Tribune that tourism officials were looking at late October as the return of its global marketing strategies, hoping by then the country is ready to reopen.

“We are looking at around late October for Phase One (of the reopening) and the early part of November, if everything pans out, for the final phase as we go back out and infiltrate the market with the tourism brand of The Bahamas,” Mr Robinson told this newspaper.

There have been concerns that the resumption of international travel could possibly lead to another wave of the virus more deadly than the previous ones as seen with the second COVID-19 wave.

Responding to those concerns yesterday, Mr Turnquest said the issue is not with tourists coming into the country, but rather Bahamians travelling to COVID-19 hotspots and subsequently returning home.

Ever since the country re-opened its borders in early July, the Bahamas has seen over 1,600 additional COVID cases reported, with the total as of Monday standing at 1,798.

Family Islands that were once deemed COVID-free have also recorded cases in recent weeks.

This, according to Mr Turnquest, is why it’s so important for Bahamians to remain disciplined and adhere to all the COVID-19 safety guidelines implemented by health officials.

He said: “… Less than one percent of those new infections came from foreigners. They were all domestic cases or persons who travelled and brought back the virus, so we can put in place strategies to quarantine to mitigate the risk that the tourist will provide, but it is us that we have to be concerned about.

“Obviously, we don’t want to have a situation where foreigners can come and Bahamians can’t come and go and so it is incumbent upon us to make sure that we are disciplined about all of the protocols and have a heightened awareness as we travel because, for instance, we know that Florida is a hotspot. So, the tourists aren’t necessarily the issue. It’s us.”

In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Mr Turnquest also urged small businesses yesterday to ensure  all the necessary health protocols are being followed when they resume operations on Monday.

Comments

ISpeakFacts 3 months, 1 week ago

Yawn, same nonsense over and over again! Reopening our borders again without any proper planning. If you thought the current surge was bad, just wait until our borders are opened back up in the middle of Flu-season!!!

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benniesun 3 months, 1 week ago

As I posted before - "Do we have competent officials who can understand how the PCR test works and what it should and shouldn't be used for? Do we have a scientist who can confirm that the pandemic virus has been isolated and truly exists? Can we D-average people understand all the research that prove masks do not stop viruses? And lastly, at the beginning of this pandemic we were told that with the spread will come herd immunity - obviously (according to their tests) the virus is widespread - therefore herd immunity must have been acheived - but wait isn't here a vaccine agenda? " Acceptance without comprehension is insanity, and insanity leads to self destruction and further enslavement.

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Sickened 3 months, 1 week ago

Looks like you are certainly enslaved!

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newcitizen 3 months, 1 week ago

As I posted before - "You are the F- student that helps bring the average down to a D-"

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benniesun 3 months, 1 week ago

Your shallow trite vindictive comments will certainly save you from the contrived famine that is at our door. The plandemic is only one aspect, and your normality bias will only prevent you from seeing what is unfolding. You wont be able to eat your words at that time of starvation - good luck at eating tree barks and grass.

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trueBahamian 3 months, 1 week ago

His logic is flawed. He basically said tourists will not be a major source of the spread of Covid-19. Sounds like he is a fortune teller. If the US has a huge issue with Covid-19 and most of our tourist come from the US, how do you reconcile that a country where the disease is out of control will have people when they arrive here will have little to no impact on us.

If we have 1,000 tourists visit our shores and they move about, they can perhaps impact about 20,000 people they come across. So, if you have 100 infected and they have contact with 2,000 people, think of the potential impact. I think he forgot this is a very small country. You infect 500 people today, if you're not careful you can take infect half the country.

I'm not proposing that we don't open. I'm simply hoping that they have a sound plan and have an awareness of the risk. Given his position here, it doesn't seem so.

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newcitizen 3 months, 1 week ago

We already opened to tourist, and it turns out they didn't bring in the virus for the second wave, it was Bahamians traveling to Florida for 72 hrs with no tests and no quarantine.

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

My Comrade New, is it your position you believe that which the Central Authority decides to coverup?

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trueBahamian 3 months, 1 week ago

I guess people living in Florida don't travel to.thr Bahamas. There is a cruise ship, if I recall, which leaves Miami and come here. I've met people who came on this, who live in Miami. Miami is a hotspot. Lets assume.that the government was truthful on what they said on the second wave. Are we going to assume that Floridians coming in will all be fine?

If we talk about testing before travel, there are issues with that too. There's a politician, a Republican, I don't recall the state, he tested positive on one test and then took another test hours later and tested negative. So, you're getting false positives and we.can also.assume false negatives.

Like I said, we can open. Just do it in a smart way.

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

My Comrade True, it's as frightening and scary as it should be across The Colony's 700 Out Islands, Rocks, and Cays.

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joeblow 3 months, 1 week ago

@truetrueBahamian ... look, this is simple. Bahamians who travel to a hotspot can get infected and bring the infection back. Tourists who travel from a hotspot cannot bring the virus here when they travel. The data proves that. There is a selective virus destroyer on flights that works based on nationality or is it melanin?

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rodentos 3 months, 1 week ago

nobody dies from covid unless he is 200lbs overweight

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whogothere 3 months, 1 week ago

Without tourism propping up the economy- bottom line - our currency will be devalued, cost of living will skyrocket, crime will explode and public services including medical facilities to service the population that has (compared To Covid19) a much dangerous pandemic of chronic vascular diseases. There is not an option here - open it up, enforce protection measures, If we leave the country to travel then we need the negative Covid test before we come home same as everyone else. Covid is here to stay.

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

My Comrade Whogotthere was there not a sustaining economy before the influx cruise passengers?

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whogothere 3 months, 1 week ago

Cruise ships do not do much for the economy accept prop up perceived numbers of visitors. Put another way they represent 80% of count and 20% of the spend (roughly I don t have the exact figs). We can live without cruise ships we can t live without hotels and vacation rentals.

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

If there turns out be a touch of a godsend to the virus let's hope it forces inward look at burning away with the tourism model we've mostly allowed slip through our better senses.

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joeblow 3 months, 1 week ago

The most striking thing about this entire experience is that no coherent plan for sustainable national development has been proposed yet! Remarkable!

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SP 3 months, 1 week ago

Why are you surprised? No coherent plan for sustainable national development has EVER been proposed!

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joeblow 3 months, 1 week ago

... touché! Just tryin' to keep hope alive!

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SP 3 months, 1 week ago

What criteria was used to conclude "less than one percent of those new infections came from foreigners"?

It is an insult to our intelligence to say Bahamians exposed for 72 hours are responsible for 99% of the infections, while foreigners from hot spots presenting a 7 to 10 day old negative Covid test having exponentially increased opportunity to contract and spread infections, only account for 1% of the spread!

These numbers do not make any sense and simply do not add up. I know politicians are known to create their own reality to suite their ever changing narrative, and think we are all D-average dumb-asses, but at least they could have said something "remotely" believable.

Secondly, tourism will remain under pressure until the US resolves it's Covid epidemic, which won't happen until they lock down the entire country, and this cannot happen until January IF Biden wins the presidency. Even then, it would take 2 to 3 months minimum to get the virus under control, so we can look at March or April before we get any real tourism volume from the US.

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Socrates 3 months, 1 week ago

I'm confused.. to my knowledge, anybody can enter the country today via commercial airline if any flying.. just need negative test ans be prepared to quarantine.

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rodentos 3 months, 1 week ago

so what will be different in 2 months? let me guess: nothing

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

Which the two facts are correct?
Finance minister Comrade KP a few days ago had forcefully denied that the Central Authority is about runout money - yet but just days prior, didn't the minister responsible for the National Insurance Board NIB, not step forward volunteered that the Central Authority will, not maybe won't, have run out of sufficient money required to continue to payout NIB benefits beyond September 2020...and, according to KP's calendar means will run out money is measured in a mere matter of days to a couple of weeks. Just couldn't make this stuff up. Just couldn't. Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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rodentos 3 months, 1 week ago

IMF paying governments for destroying the economy. Just add 1 + 1 together!

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