The Bahamas to ban most international flights as coronavirus cases surge

The prime minister of the Bahamas announced a series of coronavirus-related restrictions Sunday, including a ban on most international flights, as the number of cases in the Caribbean nation surges.

"Our current situation demands decisive action if we are to avoid being overrun and defeated by this virus," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a national address. "We cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun."

Minnis said the number of cases had almost tripled since the Bahamas began reopening its borders July 1. The total number of cases had risen to 153, he said, with most of the new cases appearing on one of the country's largest islands, Grand Bahama.

Many of the new cases were traced to residents returning to the Bahamas, he said.

Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union will be allowed to send commercial flights without passengers to the country of nearly 400,000 to pick up visitors and return them to their home countries, he said. The measure will go into effect Wednesday.

Private yachts and flights will still be allowed to enter, although the Bahamas' airline, Bahamasair, will be banned from flying to the United States, Minnis said.

Minnis announced the closure of beaches and parks and a nightly curfew on Grand Bahama. Returning residents who can't present negative test results for immigration officials will have to undergo mandatory two-week quarantines, he said.