Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has ordered a 24-hour curfew and the closure of all airports, seaports and beaches, beginning 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, extending the existing orders put in place to fight against the spread of the deadly coronavirus just days ago.
The global pandemic is killing hundreds of people at an alarming rate and with more than 374,000 cases and over 16,000 deaths worldwide and 115 cases recorded in the Caribbean region, the nation’s chief stressed Monday during his address to the nation, that for The Bahamas the new measures are about life and death.
“A curfew is imposed every day for 24 hours, except as provided in the orders or
may be approved by the Commissioner of Police. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, every person should remain confined to their place of residence, inclusive of their yard space, to avoid contact outside of their family,” the prime minister declared.
Just Friday, he instituted Emergency powers COVID-19 Order, 2020 – a measure that required everyone, except for essential services, to be in their homes between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Not more than 10 people are allowed to congregate at one time and residents were strongly advised to practice social distancing, keeping at least three to six feet away from one another in a public setting.
All businesses and non-essential services were ordered closed and no socializing, hanging out with friends and house parties permitted.
However, Prime Minister Minnis explained, it seems for the most part, the warnings are not being taken seriously as health officials fight to limit the spread of the COVID-19.
“Too many Bahamians have not taken this threat seriously enough and may people still don’t understand the toll this virus is taking on other countries,” he noted, assuring Bahamians that if they do not heed the warnings they can catch the virus.
“We have tried to act earlier and more decisive than a number of other countries, but we should have no false sense of security,” he said, adding that the emergency orders were implemented as soon as possible.
But with The Bahamas, being a small country, government must do even more in order to save lives.
In that vein, Dr. Minnis announced additional extraordinary measures, the Emergency Powers COVID-19#2 Order, 2020, which takes effect Tuesday and will also expire the same time as the initial order at 9:00 a.m. on March 31.
Essential workers and those required to work under Order 5, will be allowed to traverse the streets, however, Prime Minister Minnis is warning everyone else to stay indoors and only leave the home for essential travel to a doctor, the grocery store, bank, pharmacy, to refuel or for outdoor exercise for no more than an hour and a half each day between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Residents are further reminded to distance themselves at least six feet from one another.
The new order makes provisions for additional measures that comply with social distancing.
“Every human establishment must ensure that all customers and staff
maintain physical distancing of no less than six feet in or outside their businesses. They must determine the number of persons that may be permitted in their establishment at any one time by permitting one person for every 30 square feet of store space,” he said.
Within 24 hours of the order, owners are also expected to place distance markers six feet apart to indicated where each customer must stand at a check-out point and on the outside of the establishment where the customer must stand while waiting to enter the establishment.
Supermarket owners are strongly encouraged to allow seniors to shop between the hours 9:00 am to 11:00 am to lessen their chance of contracting the dreaded virus.
“All airports, including private airports and fixed-base operations, shall be closed to incoming international flights carrying any visitor. All seaports shall be closed to regional and international seafaring and private boating; and no visitor shall be permitted to enter and disembark for any reason including transmitting through The Bahamas,” the prime minister said.
However, the restrictions do not apply to outgoing flights or ships, cargo flights or cargo ships, commercial courier flights, emergency medical flights or emergency flights.
All Fish Fry throughout The Bahamas are ordered shut down, along with the closure of all docks to any commercial activity and sales of anything to the general public, including fish, conch or any such catch.
Residents are required to have some form of identification with them at all times as the Royal Bahamas Police Force has the authority to stop any vehicle; question anyone as to their purpose on the road and arrest anyone found in violation of the restrictions.
COVID-19, Prime Minister Minnis said, is an enemy to our shores, our lives and our livelihood.
“While the emergency orders are difficult for some, it is better to do what we need to do now, rather than paying a greater and heavier price later,” he said. “…If you do not heed the warnings you could catch the virus and it could kill you. You could spread it to your friends and families and it could kill them.”