Americans won’t be welcomed in the Bahamas because of the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. tourists will be barred from visiting the island country beginning midnight on Wednesday, Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on Sunday in an address to the island nation.
"Our current situation demands decisive action if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus," Minnis said. "We cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun. Many priorities must be balanced, be they health, social, and economic. Chief amongst these, though, is the health."
It took just three weeks for the country to roll back its stance on allowing U.S. tourists to travel there and comes after the European Union, Canada, and Mexico have largely banned American visitors as coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise rapidly.
Minnis’ announcement made clear that visitors from Canada, the United Kingdom, and countries belonging to the European Union are still permitted to enter the Bahamas, pending a negative COVID-19 test result from an accredited lab or clinic from their country of origin taken within 10 days of their arrival.
Prior to the border sealing, Minnis announced Bahamasair, the country's national airline, will halt routes traveling to the U.S., effective immediately. But affected Americans will have the option to return to the U.S. on outgoing commercial flights.
The country’s economy thrives on tourism, particularly tourism dollars from Americans. But for Bahamians, the boon isn’t worth risking the health of the country’s population. The total cases for the country is now at 153, with 49 of the cases happening since July 1, the day it reopened its borders.
“Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy,” said Minnis. “It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.”
The Bahamas has been a favorite destination among Americans for its weather, accessibility, and proximity to the United States. But now its proximity is considered a threat with just 50 miles separating the Bahamas from Florida, one of the new viral epicenters.
Similarly, the European Union isn’t allowing U.S. tourists, a policy that began July 1. The 27-member bloc reviews travel restrictions every two weeks, and on Thursday, extended the ban on the U.S. Canada only allows essential travel for American visitors, while Mexico has barred all non-essential travel through August.
However, other Caribbean nations are welcoming American tourists who are in need of sun and sand or just a change of scenery. Here’s where Americans can go:
St. Maarten/St. Martin (beginning Aug. 1)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The U.S. Virgin Islands
Turks and Caicos (beginning July 22)
While the Bahamas remains off limits to Americans, Barbados is on the other end of the spectrum. The country is inviting American visitors to stay up to 12 months, which extends the previous limit for U.S. passport holders without a visa by six months.