Almost three months have past since The Bahamas closed its border and ceased all commercial flights both domestically and internationally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However as of today, June 8, Bahamian nationals can travel domestically to the various islands within the archipelago.
This is part of the wider national plan set forward by Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Hubert Minnis to reopen the country and restart the economy. Commercial airlines had started taking reservations on June 2 for inter-island flights.
These airlines are working to ensure numerous protocols including but not limited to enhanced cleaning procedures for aircraft and ensuring flight crews utilize facial mask. Passengers will also be reminded that they must wear masks before boarding. The Ministries of “Health” and “Tourism and Aviation” have outlined procedures to ensure physical distancing on board aircraft before, during and after the boarding process will be implemented.
Physical distancing will be enforced. The flag carrier of the Bahamas, Bahamasair, is one of the various airlines enforcing the protocols. Tracy Cooper, Managing Director at Bahamasair stated, “We will practice social distancing and NAD (Nassau Airport Development) will monitor and make the necessary adjustments as we go on. All passengers are required to wear masks and flight attendants will wear masks as well. Flight attendants will also wear gloves and there will be no catering of any kind on the flights. We will have some water and that is only for those who need it. We are asking all passengers to hydrate themselves before the flights and after the flights.”
However the airline will continue selling the middle seat of its aircraft. Mr Cooper said, “We will sell the middle seats, but we will practice social distancing as much as possible. We suspect that until Bahamians are comfortable with the resumption of their traveling, the planes will not be that full anyway.”
Passengers travelling from various islands will be required to complete a standardized travel form and a standardized health form at the time of check-in. These short forms will be used to collect contact information and a COVID-19 risk assessment for health officials. It should be noted that due to physical distancing protocols, the check-in process may/will take longer than usual. This gradual restart in the aviation sector will begin the process opening up international flights, which is slated for July 1.