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’It was extremely disheartening:’ Bahamian national in Orlando reacts to travel ban

Country bars U.S. visitors

ORLANDO, Fla. – The travel ban for U.S. visitors to the Bahamas is now in effect. The decision by the Bahamian government came 18 days after the country opened its borders to international travelers.

For one Bahamian national who moved to Orlando in 2016, the news left him uneasy.

“My first reaction was: huh, I haven’t had a chance to actually go home and see any family members, yet,” Jonathan Burrows said. “To know that I haven’t been home since February and to know that, ‘hey, you’re not gonna be able to come in any time soon,' it was extremely disheartening.”

Burrows said he usually visited his native country of the Bahamas one to three times a month. Those visits were halted once the coronavirus pandemic broke out.

Burrows, like many other Bahamian nationals, still has several family members back home, including his sister and mother.

“We have a very close family so I’m not gonna be able to be there to see them and also we have lost some family because of COVID-19, so it would’ve been good to just see everybody and embrace everybody,” Burrows said.

On July 1, the Bahamas lifted its travel restrictions for visitors but more than 15 new COVID-19 cases prompted the government to put a travel ban on all commercial flights and vessels from the United States.

“I do understand where the country and the government is coming from,” Burrows said. “Our primer minister has said you know, with a country of our size, 300,000 people max, to have a pandemic like that to come through is a high priority.”

There are some exemptions -- visitors from the United Kingdom, European Union and Canada who have tested negative for COVID-19 are permitted into the Bahamas.

According to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, outgoing flights will be permitted in order to accommodate any current visitors scheduled to return to the United States.

Private flights and charters from the United States, as well as pleasure craft and yachts, will be permitted throughout the island of the Bahamas with the exception of Freeport.

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