COVID-19 Bahamas Updates

Emergency Powers(COVID-19)(No.4)(Amendment))Order,2020

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis released the following statement today on the resumption of worship services under specific conditions, and the further relaxation of business hours and days for designated exempted businesses and services outlined in the Emergency Powers (COVID 19) Order 2020.

Worship services

Effective Saturday 23 May worship services may be held in all Family Islands cleared to resume commercial activity (Abaco, Andros, Long Island, Cat Island, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island and Rum Cay) 2020 under the following conditions:

  • Services may be held in the sanctuary;
    • The church is responsible for providing hand sanitisation at the entrance to the church;
    • All persons participating and attending the service must adhere to proper physical distancing, hygiene and sanitisation protocols;
    • Persons must sit 6 feet apart, except if they are from the same immediate household;
    • Persons are to remain in or at their seats;
  • All persons must wear masks;
    • Sunday School is not permitted;
    • Communion may be held using disposable cups and distributors must wear a mask and gloves, and must exercise proper hygiene and sanitisation measures;
    • There will be one offering station. Offering baskets should not be passed around;
    • Persons that are in high-risk categories are asked not to attend the service, this includes persons age 65 and over and those with comorbidities.

On New Providence, Grand Bahama and other Family Islands not included above (Exuma, San Salvador, Eleuthera, Bimini and the Berry Islands), churches are permitted to hold services effective Saturday, 23 May 2020 under the following conditions:

  • Services may ONLY be held as drive-up service where attendees are seated in their vehicles. No sanctuary service is permitted;
    • Adequate parking must be available to accommodate the drive up service;
    • Services must be limited to one hour;
  • Vehicles may only have 4 persons from the same immediate household;
    • Where an immediate household has more than 4 persons, the church leader is to issue a clear sign to be displayed visibly on the dashboard of the vehicle indicating that the church is familiar with the family and the immediate members exceed 4 persons;
    • Vehicles must be parked at least three feet apart;
    • Communion may not be held;
    • There will be one offering station. Offering baskets may not be passed from vehicle to vehicle;
    • Persons in high-risk categories are asked not to attend drive-up service, this includes individuals age 65 and older and those with comorbidities.

Services are permitted Saturday and Sunday only during the weekend lockdowns between 7am and 1pm.

Extension of hours and days of exempted businesses and services

Effective Monday, 25 May:

  • Plant nurseries may operate Monday to Friday 6am – 5pm
  • Hardware, lumber, plumbing, home and hurricane awnings and hurricane protection businesses allowed to operate Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm
  • Auto parts stores allowed to operate Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm
  • Clearing banks and Post Office Savings Banks allowed to operate Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm
  • Money transmission businesses allowed to operate Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm
  • Insurance companies allowed to operate Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm
  • Financial services allowed to operate Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm
  • Medical and health service facilities may provide non-emergency health services in accordance with operating guidelines outlined by the Medical Association of The Bahamas and the Ministry of Health.

New exempted business

  • Dry cleaners may now operate Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

The Bahamas has started to transition to Phase 2 of the five-phase re-opening plan. This phase includes the resumption of business operations in the Family Islands with no presence of COVID-19, increase in delivery and curbside operations, the addition of healthcare services and manufacturing industries, and the opening up of worship services.

Prime Minister Minnis announces additional Family Islands cleared to resume commercial activity, relaxation of more measures

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis today announced the resumption of commercial activity on the islands of Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros and the further relaxation of measures related to exercise and certain business and service operating hours.

Effective Monday 18 May, Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros will join the southern islands of Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island and Rum Cay which have been cleared as part of a gradual re-opening of the Family Islands.

The 24-hour curfew and lockdowns remain in effect for the cleared islands.

While The Bahamas remains in Phase 1B of the five-phase economic and social re-opening plan, the Government has started to introduce components of Phase 2, the Prime Minster said in a televised live COVID-19 National Address on Sunday 17 May.

“As we continue to make progress, we will act on the advice of health officials on the phased and gradual reopening of various islands and certain areas of our economy, as well as a new normal for daily life that will be with us for some time,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

As a part of the gradual re-opening, construction companies on New Providence and Grand Bahama are now allowed to operate on Saturdays from 7am to 1pm, in. addition to weekday operations.

To facilitate hurricane preparedness, home and hardware stores will now also be allowed to operate in-store hours on Mondays, 8am to 8pm. This also applies to manufacturers of hurricane-proof windows and other hurricane-related products, said Prime Minister Minnis.

Pharmacies may now operate from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday for the general public, and Saturday 9am to 5pm for essential workers only.

Also, exercise measures have been further relaxed during the weekend lockdowns. Exercise may now take place on Saturday and Sunday from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. in one’s immediate neighbourhood.

On those Family Islands allowed to resume commercial activity, residents will be allowed to catch crabs for themselves and for sale during the evenings of weekday curfew and weekend lockdowns.

The Prime Minister also announced that the Government is well advanced in its planning for the beginning of the re-opening of the country’s tourism sector and to allow for travel in and out of The Bahamas.

“Our resorts, our airports and our seaports are finalizing the health and safety protocols that will be necessary for us to provide for a re-opening,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

“Taking into account what is being done within the region and around the world, these extensive guidelines will be designed to provide for reasonable assurance that travel and leisure is generally safe.”

The Prime Minister said that any such re-opening to commercial-scale traffic will also be dependent on the ongoing stabilization of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Bahamas.

It will also only be applied to those islands where the outbreak has been contained.

As of now, the Government is looking at a possible opening date for commercial travel on or before 1 July, said Prime Minister Minnis.

These dates may change depending on the circumstances, he noted.

“I want to repeat however that this date is not final. It will be adjusted if we see a deterioration in the COVID-19 infection trends or if we determine that the protocols and procedures are not in place sufficiently to warrant an opening,” said the Prime Minister.