Bahamas bans US tourists as coronavirus cases spike
'Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy'
Americans will no longer be able to travel to the Bahamas starting Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The island nation will close its borders to travelers from the United States, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Sunday, citing an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Travelers from the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada will still be allowed to enter the Bahamas.
“Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy,” Minnis said. “It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.”
International flights -- except those from the U.K., EU and Canada -- and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter the borders starting Wednesday. The country's airline, Bahamasair, had stopped all outgoing flights to the U.S. as of Sunday. Private and charter flights will still be allowed; yachts and private boats are also approved to enter.
All travelers headed to the Bahamas must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 lab test from 10 days or less before the trip or they will be mandated to quarantine for 14 days.
It's unclear how long U.S. travelers will be banned from the Bahamas.
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The prime minister's office did not return a FOX Business request for comment.
The Caribbean country has a population of close to 390,000 and on Sunday, reported 15 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 153, the Bahamian Ministry of Health said. Eleven people in the country have died of the virus.
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The island heavily relies on Americans for tourism. The Bahamas had its highest-ever recorded stopover visits before the pandemic with 1.45 million visits from the U.S. alone in 2019, according to the Caribbean Journal.
The Atlantis Paradise Island resort, a popular tourist destination in the Bahamas, pushed back its reopening date as a result of the surge in COVID-19 cases. The resort was originally planning to welcome back guests on July 30 after announcing last month a phased reopening slated to begin on July 7. Instead, the resort will continue to remain closed for the time being.
"We believe that remaining closed is in the best interest of public health at this time," Audrey Oswell, president and managing director at Atlantis Paradise Island, said in a statement.