Emergency Orders will remain in Place


Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis expressed the importance of the country’s COVID-19 Emergency Powers Orders during his recent address in the House of Assembly.

“Today, in our Caribbean and North American neighbors, throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, and even in countries that have been acknowledged to have had generally the best responses to the pandemic, the pandemic still requires various emergency orders,” he said.

He furthered that many are currently battling new waves, with some returning to national lockdowns. Nearly one million people have died, and no one knows when the pandemic will end.  Few countries in the world no longer require some type of emergency orders and restrictions.

“I rise today in support of today’s Resolution, extending various emergency orders until the 31st day of October 2020,” he said.

The measures in the Emergency Powers Orders are not ends in themselves.  They are tools or measures used to protect and to save lives and are available in case of an emergency, as a number of health professionals have noted publicly over the past few days.

“We are here to extend those lawful Emergency Powers because we are still in an emergency. We live in an emergency due to the pandemic,” he said.

According to the PM this is the first time in our modern history that our Government has had to fully mobilize to face a crisis of this nature affecting the entire Bahamas simultaneously. 

All resources are being brought to bear in our hospitals to treat the sick.

The government is providing historic and unprecedented amounts of unemployment benefits and assistance to individuals and businesses.

“There are people who oppose my Government for various reasons.  That is their right.  This is a democracy.  However, it is unreasonable for any critic to say this is not an emergency and these powers are not necessary,” he said.

He noted that this argument is simply wrong as one cannot say that certain emergency orders are not serious and at the same time say that the virus remains very serious.

“Saying both of these at the same time is wholly contradictory and makes no sense,” he said.

“There are people who oppose my Government for various reasons.  That is their right.  This is a democracy.  However, it is unreasonable for any critic to say this is not an emergency and these powers are not necessary,”

Rt. Hon. Hubert Minnis.

The PM added that the Emergency Powers Orders give the Government the necessary ability to act quickly to prevent or lessen virus spread.

According to him, the provisions in the Emergency Powers Orders have been prescribed as narrowly as possible. 

No activity by citizens and residents is prohibited or constrained, unless required for public health and safety purposes.

“Our health team surveys the circumstance, analyzes the data and makes recommendations to combat the virus based on the situation at hand.  We take that advice and use the Emergency Powers to help save lives.  Without the Emergency Powers the virus would run wild in our communities, killing a large number of people in record time,” he said.

Prime Minister Minnis expressed that his Government does not like lockdowns.

“We understand they are hard on family life; they’re hard on businesses, and individual’s finances; they’re hard on people’s mental health,” he said.

When virus cases increase they try first to impose other restrictive measures.  But, if cases rise exponentially and virus spread is out of control.

“We may have no choice but to order a lockdown to save lives, as have most governments around the world, including countries that have been acknowledged to have had generally a good response to the pandemic,” he said.

He noted that based on the data at hand, the country appears to be nearing the end of our second wave of the pandemic.

However, the second wave is not over.

“Additionally, given global trends, we will likely face a third wave,” he said.

It is likely there will be a third wave in The Bahamas, as there has been and will be in other countries.

“We know this from the pattern of the spread of the virus. It is very contagious,” he said.

As people travel more outside of their homes, congregate and let their guards down when one wave ends, the virus comes back.

“So, we must guard against complacency.  We must not let our guards down.  As a people we must do all we can to lessen the impact of a third wave.  The key to this is that each of us and all of us must be even more committed to using the measures we used to slow the first and second waves,” he said.

He added that the more the public consistently comply with these recommendations, the better they may control a third wave.  

By limiting the number of people infected in the third wave, we lessen the need to impose the most restrictive measures such as lockdowns. 

The Prime Minister acknowledged that 2020 has not been the year anyone imagined.

He noted that the pandemic put on hold so many of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of our people, including young Bahamians.  Children’s educations have been disrupted.

“Many businesses, including small businesses, are still struggling. We have spent months barely seeing our friends and relatives out of fear of catching or spreading the virus,” he said.

He informed that vaccines are in development, but when they will be ready, and when they will be deployed comprehensively around the world is unknown.

“This pandemic is the most significant national emergency in our modern history.  Bahamians have died. Bahamians are sick. There are also those who have long-term health effects, some of which may last for many years or a lifetime,” he said.

There are people who had the virus some time ago and supposedly recovered, yet they still suffer debilitating and lingering effects. No one knows how long these effects will last.   Many are suffering.   Our forefathers wisely saw there would be times like these when our nation would be put to the test.

They entrusted in the Governor General the lawful power to declare Proclamations of Emergency.  They knew that in an all-out crisis, swift and decisive action would be needed to save Bahamian lives. 

“I thank our hardworking medical team for all they have done to help reduce the numbers over these recent months.  I also thank the Bahamian people for their compliance and cooperation with the public health guidelines.

The PM stated that while there are some who ignore the measures, the large majority of Bahamians and residents are abiding by the measures. 

Until there is a vaccine or treatment, these are still the best measures to keep Bahamians and their families safe. 

“Fighting COVID-19 is a national effort. We have to work together.  Each and every Bahamian and resident is key to our success,” he said.

He furthered that it only takes one infected person going to a gathering and not following the guidelines to cause hundreds of infections.

“Let history remember us as one of the disciplined nations in this pandemic. Let us be remembered as a people who worked together toward the common goal of keeping our communities as COVID-free as possible,” he said.

Continued national commitment to that common goal and common good will save lives and lessen suffering.

Prime Minister Minnis also thanked Dr. Merceline Dahl Regis, who he claims deserves the highest praise and high national recognition for her tireless efforts on behalf of us all.

“She is a symbol and example of the best of the Bahamian spirit.  She has remained steadfast and dedicated to the greater good and the common good.  I am sure the House will join me in acknowledging the good work of Dr. Dahl Regis and our health experts,” he said.

The PM reiterated that he supports the extension of the Emergency Powers Orders and asked God’s blessings on our Bahamas.


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