Nassau – The Bahamas government said people will no longer be required to wear a mask from October 1, except for those accessing healthcare facilities, visiting senior care homes, or in an indoor classroom setting.
In a message posted on his Twitter account, Prime Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis said adjustments to the mask mandate were recommended by the advisory committee at the Ministry of Health & Wellness.
But the authorities said that while mask wearing is not currently required in outdoor settings, it is still largely required indoors and that once the new policy takes effect, mask wearing will not be needed in most settings.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health said mask wearing will still be needed for people accessing a health care facility for any reason, including workers, patients, visitors and vendors or any non-resident worker of a long-term care residential facility.
The health authorities said mask wearing is also needed “in any indoor classroom setting in an educational institution, except where Rule 27 (20 of the Health Services Rules (COVID) Prevention and Management of Community Spread 2021)”.
President of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union, Darrin Woods welcomed the announcement, saying the move will likely boost tourism numbers and aid the nation’s economic recovery in turn.
“It sends a positive message that as things begin to decline, and I think the prime minister would have said this – as things begin to decline, and we are able to hold our numbers, we will see more relaxation of some of the COVID-19 protocols coming into play,” he told the Tribune newspaper.
“I don’t think we will ever get away from the sanitisation, washing of the hands and even in your mind, psyche, people will still be social distancing, so it’s a welcome to us because we believe that the time has come now.”
Former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said while the policy change was not an “unreasonable step”, it also did not mean that the virus was behind us and further reminded Bahamians to be on guard.
The Bahamas recorded 37 213 cases of COVID-19 and 833 deaths since the first case was recorded in March 2022.