Days after advising that Bahamians returning home would have to be quarantined at a facility to be guarded by Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) officers, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced in a national address yesterday that Bahamian citizens and residents returning to The Bahamas will now be given the option to
quarantine either at home or at a government facility.
The government closed the Bahamian borders on March 27, including to citizens and Bahamas residents. It has now come up with a protocol to allow citizens and residents to return.
“All those returning will be required to be quarantined for 14 days in a government quarantined facility or self-quarantined,” Minnis said.
“They will also be subjected to mandatory quarantine verification monitoring by the Ministry of Health.”
He added, “Individuals in quarantine — at home or in the government facility — must adhere to the strict protocols established by health officials. Those who break quarantine or violate the quarantine order will face a fine of $20,000 or five years’ imprisonment or both.”
The prime minister’s announcement about the quarantine protocol upon arrival to The Bahamas — which was made in the House of Assembly last Monday — was met with some public criticism after The Nassau Guardian revealed that some permanent residents are being allowed to quarantine at home after landing on New Providence on Wednesday.
“Let me be clear about the protocol for Bahamians and residents wishing to return to The Bahamas; citizens and legal residents of The Bahamas, the latter with a home in The Bahamas, will be permitted entry into The Bahamas via travel to New Providence or Grand Bahama unless approved otherwise via air,” Minnis said yesterday.
“Those individuals in these categories are to make contact with the nearest Bahamas embassy or consulate to them. Aircraft and airlines proposing to carry such individuals are required to make flight applications in the normal course to the Department of Civil Aviation.”
He said Bahamians and residents will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test at an accredited lab before returning to The Bahamas “unless otherwise approved to have the test administered upon arrival”.
“…Some individuals returning from Florida have indicated they are having a difficult time in obtaining this test and are having difficulty in being facilitated,” Minnis said.
“I want to assure them that the government will facilitate them in obtaining this test before departure to The Bahamas. The test results, identifying particulars and contact information of each returning individual will be submitted to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health.”
The prime minister said the government has made arrangements for the return of hundreds of Bahamians who have been in the United States for some time, but he did not provide any details on those arrangements.
He did say, however, that they will begin returning home “by this weekend”.
Last week, Bahamas Consul General in Miami Linda Treco-Mackey said more than 400 Bahamians were seeking to return home.
The government has not yet identified its quarantine facility.