Prime Minister of The Bahamas Dr Hubert Minniss aid while his country has made progress in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19), it cannot afford to let its guard down.
To this end, the prime minister announced plans to gradually reopen sections of The Bahamas’ economy in a radio and television broadcast on Sunday. Minnis said that the 24-hour curfew will continue as will the lockdowns from Friday 9:00 pm to Monday 5:00 am.
“We have to continue to wear our masks, to practise physical distancing, as well as to wash our hands thoroughly along with other measures,” he said.
Bahamas has so far confirmed 83 cases of COVID-19 and based on the progress made, Minnis’s Administration has agreed that beginning yesterday, the country would enter the first phase of the re-opening of the economy. This phase, he said, will focus on delivery and curbside service and construction.
“This phased re-opening is aimed at striking the right balance between permitting some further level of commerce to resume while still maintaining a vigilant national position promoting physical distancing and reinforcing the health and safety precautions necessary to mitigate community spread of COVID-19,” the prime minister explained.
“The objective of the first phase is to stimulate businesses through economic activity and to meet needs important to the population during this health crisis,” he added.
As of yesterday, therefore, businesses began providing goods and services through delivery and curbside pickup from Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm (local time). At the same time construction activity on New Providence and Grand Bahama should take place for a maximum 12 hours, beginning at 7:00 am.
Home and hardware stores, plant nurseries and auto parts stores may expand to five-day online delivery and curbside services if they have the capacity. This is in addition to the in-store days those stores are currently allowed to operate.
“This phased re-opening is aimed at striking the right balance between permitting some further level of commerce to resume while still maintaining a vigilant national position promoting physical distancing and reinforcing the health and safety precautions necessary to mitigate community spread of COVID-19.”— Prime Minister of The Bahamas Dr Hubert Minnis
Still, the prime minister encouraged businesses to use gloves and observe other safety protocols in handling and delivery of goods and interaction with customers. He added that businesses should practise proper physical distancing and sanitising measures at all times.
Minnis said the phased plan for reopening of the economy and the islands that make up the archipelago requires flexibility and so the adopted measures are only guidelines.
“If advised by our health officials to do so we may have to go back to certain restrictions. If we are making more progress, we may be able to ease certain restrictions quicker.”
The Minnis Administratation began the progressive reopening of various Family Islands in Southern Bahamas yesterday, though it had determined their reopening in Phase Two. The prime minister declared that number of islands —Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay — would be able to resume normal commercial activity effective yesterday.
“Border restrictions as it relates to the travel of passengers in the Family Islands remain except for emergency and other circumstances which must be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. However, residents of New Providence who are currently in the islands just mentioned, will be allowed to return to New Providence.”
Minnis said that curfew and lockdown measures remain in effect for all Family Islands, including the zones that have returned to normal commercial activity.