By Abria Cooper
Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis expressed gratitude to the Grand Bahama community when he visited the island earlier this week.
Prime Minister Minnis stated that he was on the island for a several purposes, one being to the thank residents of Grand Bahama.
“I came here to personally thank the people of Grand Bahama for your cooperation during the various lockdown periods,” he said.
He added that their actions and community spirit made an extraordinary difference in arresting the community spread of COVID-19.
“Thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for your determination. Thank you for your resilience during this most difficult time. I know it has been very hard for so many people. But your sacrifices and discipline have made a tremendous difference,” he said.
The PM noted that it is important for residents to keep doing what they are doing.
“COVID-19 will be part of our lives for some time. We have to learn to live with it,” he said.
He furthered that we all must strike the responsible balance between keeping our economy open and practicing the public health measures so the spread of the virus is kept as low as possible.
“We all know the rules, wash or sanitize your hands regularly; wear your masks properly over your nose and mouth; stay physically distant from others; do not attend mass gatherings. Continue to make the public health guidance a regular part of your lives. Please urge your family and friends to do the same,” he said.
According to him the more we keep the virus suppressed, the more normalcy there will be to our lives.
Prime Minister Minnis also thanked all of the public and private officials, including medical and security personnel, feeding networks, businesses, officials at OPM in Grand Bahama and others who worked in a spirit of unity.
“It is with enormous gratitude and admiration, that I thank all of you,” he said.
He stated that the people of Grand Bahama demonstrated a “we should” solidarity and attitude.
The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to send a stern warning to members of the Bahamian public to conduct themselves accordingly regarding the ongoing pandemic.
“While I am pleased that most Bahamians are listening to the public health advice, a number of us are still engaging in high-risk behavior such as getting together for parties,” he said.
“I wish to remind the public on every island that wearing a mask in public places is mandatory,” he said.
According to the PM the police will be enforcing these measures, which includes issuing tickets for those in violation. The fine for not wearing a mask is $250.
As it relates to construction sites, the police will be monitoring sites to ensure mask wearing protocols are being followed by all construction workers.
“Construction operations will now be fined for non-compliance with the Orders related to mask wearing and other physical distancing protocols established by the Bahamas Construction Association as approved by the Ministry of Health,” he said.
On a second infraction, the fine will be doubled. On the third infraction, the construction project may be closed down.
Then the Prime Minister once again offered condolences to the families of all those who have lost loved ones because of this deadly virus.
“Let us continue to pray for all of those in hospital or at home who are ill and those recovering from the virus,” he said.
He then expressed wanting to show gratitude at every opportunity to healthcare workers.
“I want to thank the health care and medical officials who have been on the frontline of this battle from the beginning of the pandemic. They too have demonstrated the spirit of “we should”. They are the face and the spirit of courage and resilience,” he said.
He also took the opportunity to discourage large social gatherings and parties.
“We are able to relax or we must implement more restrictive measures depending on what we do together to limit the spread of COVID-19, which you see from the news is still very much out of control in many countries in the world,” he said.
He explained that there are a number of very ill people in our hospitals. This virus has lasting effects, some of which we still do not know about and which may do damage for a long time or lifetime.
“This is why I keep asking you to be safe and to take care of yourselves,” he said.
He stated that on this phase of the country’s reopening, we each have the ability to lessen or to increase our risk of infection and the risk of infecting others.
“I again thank all Bahamians and residents, including here on Grand Bahama, who have been their brother’s and sister’s keepers. We will re-merge from this battle to restore our country, stronger, together,” he said.