**FILE** A security guard lowers the Bahamian flag at Fort Charlotte on December 19, 2013 in Nassau, Bahamas. The fort is one of several that remain from the British colonial era. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
**FILE** A security guard lowers the Bahamian flag at Fort Charlotte on December 19, 2013 in Nassau, Bahamas. The fort is one of several that remain from the British colonial era. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Roughly 200 Bahamians returned to the county Friday in the first phase of the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ repatriation of nationals who were stuck abroad amid the havoc generated worldwide by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 195 Bahamians were flown on chartered Bahamasair flights to New Providence and Grand Bahama and were met at the airports on the two most populous Bahamian islands by officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They were transported to the Government-operated quarantine facilities for evaluation and will remain quarantined until health officials determine if it is safe for them to leave.

In a press release issued Friday, the ministry advised the public in Nassau not to visit the airport to collect family members, noting that “in the interest of public safety, visitors will not be permitted at the quarantine facility.”

“If family members wish to send packages to their loved ones while they are in quarantine, the items should be delivered to the Ministry of Health in Nassau and Grand Bahama, and they will be delivered to recipients at the quarantine facility,” the statement said. “These protocols have been put in place in the interest of public health and safety, and we ask all persons to comply fully with these measures. There will be law enforcement personnel at both the airports and the quarantine facilities to ensure there is no breach of these protocols. The Ministry wishes to thank all persons for their patience, cooperation and compliance with the measures in place at this time.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bahamas government issued an emergency order on March 24 that prohibited all foreign persons from entering the country “through any public or privately owned air or sea port.” Three days later, the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau was closed to all incoming commercial passengers.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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