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Bahamian borders closed to Bahamian citizens abroad, others

The Nassau Guardian March 27, 2020

Rachel Knowles

While the United States Embassy has advised that The Bahamas’ border closure, which prevents even Bahamian citizens from entering the country, will last until May 1, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said the government has not decided on a date yet.

D’Aguilar said the government decided to shut down borders for all incoming people, including Bahamian residents and citizens, due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States

“With the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the countries surrounding us, the government felt that in order to protect the 400,000 Bahamian citizens and residents, that it was necessary to in essence close the borders to all persons attempting to enter the country,” he said.

“Obviously, we have seen in the United States a rapid, rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. So, the government felt it was necessary to take drastic moves to protect our citizens who are domiciled here from a surge,”

He added, “Until the countries surrounding us have gone through their increase, then we felt it best to take what we felt was a preventative step to stop a possible surge here.”

There are 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas – nine on New Providence and one on Grand Bahama. The United States now has over 100,000 cases of COVID-19 – more than China, where the novel coronavirus that causes the disease emerged late last year.

In a notice issued earlier today, the U.S. Embassy advised Bahamians living in the United States to contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services if they have questions regarding their legal status to stay in the U.S.

“On March 27, the Bahamian government expanded its border closure to include all incoming individuals, not just foreign visitors.

“No person, whether Bahamian citizen, legal permanent resident or foreign visitor will be permitted entry into The Bahamas,” it said.

“Bahamian aviation authorities also issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) clarifying that this prohibition extended until May 1 and does not apply to outgoing flights, cargo, commercial courier, and emergency medical evacuation flights.

“If you are a citizen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in the United States and have questions regarding your legal status to remain in the United States, please contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for further assistance.”

In a statement this evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referenced a press release from Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) regarding the government’s decision to close the borders of The Bahamas to all incoming passengers, effective March 27.

The ministry said, “Planes can come empty to pick up passengers and leave.

“It is realized that this is likely to result in the dislocation of Bahamian nationals and residents who are abroad and seeking to return home.

“We urge you to make direct contact with the nearest Bahamian embassy, high commission or honorary consulate.

“The addresses can be found on mofa.gov.bs. If there is no office near you, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at mofaconsular@bahamas.gov.bs or dgmfa@bahamas.gov.bs or mofabahamas@bahamas.gov.bs.”

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