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Isaias now predicted to cross Bahamas as Category 2 hurricane, could affect Florida coast

Alex Harris, Michelle Marchante and Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

The county also announced that all facilities operated by the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, including beaches and parks, will close by 8 p.m. Friday in preparation for the storm. State-supported COVID-19 testing sites across Florida will also be closed at least until Tuesday morning.

The Bahamas is the first region to issue a hurricane warning for Isaias. Hurricane warnings were issued for the northwestern Bahamas, which includes the Abacos Islands, Grand Bahamas Island and Andros Island; the northwestern Bahamas including Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abacos Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahamas Island, and Bimini; the southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands; and the central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador.

Tropical storm warnings are still in effect for the Dominican Republic's entire southern and northern coastlines. Warnings are also in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Tropical storm watches are in effect for the northwestern Bahamas including Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abacos Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahamas Island and Bimini.

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis asked Bahamians to take the approaching storm seriously and again urged them "to prepare for the worse just in case."

All government offices will close at noon Friday to allow people to prepare for the storm, Minnis announced. He also said this weekend's COVID-19 lockdown, put in place to try and stem the tide of rising coronavirus cases, will be relaxed to allow people to prepare for the storm. The hours of supermarkets and other stores will be extended and individuals will be allowed to move around.

Effective Friday, a curfew will be in place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. until further notice.

Based on current indicators and data provided, a lockdown will still be necessary following the passage of this storm, Minnis said. "Much stronger protective and mitigation measures are absolutely necessary and will have to be implemented," he said.

He also told Bahamians that the country remains in the midst of a pandemic and if they do not act responsibly, the consequences could be dire. He begged them not to use the storm to go "socializing" and meeting with friends and family.

 

"The situation we are in is very fast-moving and fluid," he said.

Minnis also appealed to the country's youth, who have been booking reservations at local hotels to wait out the hurricane. Minnis asked them not to engage in COVID-19 or hurricane parties.

"Use that time for security and safety, please. Do not engage in a hurricane or COVID party. It will not help us and it can be devastating. We will see the after-effects, if not in two weeks, possibly later," Minnis said.

While the Bahamas is still recovering from the devastating effects of last year's Hurricane Dorian, which slammed the islands of Grand Bahama and the Abacos, it is also dealing with a surge in coronavirus cases after fully reopening its borders on July 1. The surge first led to announcing a travel ban for U.S. travelers. It has since amended it by saying all visitors are welcomed but will need to quarantine -- at their own expense -- in a government facility for 14 days and take a COVID-19 test before being discharged.

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