Long Island 'excited' on lockdown release


Tribune Business Reporter


Long Island’s Chamber of Commerce president yesterday said she was “very excited” that the island has been released from the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown and can resume commerce from today.

However, Cheryl de Goicoechea told Tribune Business that Long Island is going to remain a “sleepy town” until travel from Nassau and elsewhere resumes.

“There is no way for tourists to get here because the only way they can get here is through Nassau, and there are no flights between Nassau and the islands. Flights can only travel between the islands that are COVID-19-free and Nassau is not COVID-free. So the only way tourists can get here is if they come by charter,” she said.

The prime minister, in a national address on Sunday, said Mayaguana; Inagua; Crooked Island; Acklins; Long Cay; Rum Cay; and Ragged Island will also be able to resume commercial and social activity as normal from today, with parks and beaches also opening, due to the fact they have no COVID-19 cases.

Ms de Goicoechea added: “The fishermen will be happy about it, and of course the stores that are now able to operate on full schedule. I know they will be happy about it. But we still have to be very, very cautious, and still follow all of the safety guidelines because it only takes one case.

“We don’t have fish fry, but we have a few roadside bars and I am sure they are going to be happy because the locals are patrons to those places. This time of year for us we don’t have that many tourists anyway.

“This is a slow time of the year for tourists on Long Island, but the ones that really want to get here will try to get here by charter. There are a couple of charter operators, and there is one charter operator that operates out of the US here in Long Island,” she continued.

“There are other charters in the US that bring people down, and there is a Bahamian charter in Long Island that is authorised to charter back and forth between Long Island and the US., called Island Wings that is operated Marty Fox.”

Ms de Goicoechea said: “I’m going to imagine that captain Fox is going to keep busy, and a few of those charter companies out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale are going to be busy, because there are second home owners that have homes here on the island that may be wanting to come to the islands, so they would have to offer charters.

“For the people who want to come on vacation they all have to be offered a charter, too, but I don’t know how they are going to handle this. I would imagine if they are coming to Long Island they would still have to go through the testing. If they are coming through the US they would still have to do the testing and get all of the approvals to come in on a charter.

Ms de Goicoechea also called for clarification on whether or not tourists coming in on charters will still have to quarantine for 14 days, and added: “I think they definitely need to be tested, though. I think this lockdown was necessary, because if you listened to the prime minister he said San Salvador is waiting on a swab test,l and that is the reason why they haven’t been allowed to reopen with us. Who knows? Next week it could be Long Island, so I think this lockdown was necessary.”