NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As restrictions relating to church services and social gatherings relax today on New Providence and Abaco until early next month, Central and South Abaco MP James Albury urged residents not to circumvent the rules.
He expressed concern about an uptick in cases following the holidays and pointed out that the true effect of transmission during the period will not be seen for several more weeks — a point made by National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Director Dr Nikkiah Forbes.
“There is always a concern that people are going to use the holidays to circumvent the rules,” Albury said.
“We want to make sure people are, like you said, not letting their guard down.
“I have encouraged everyone to adhere to the protocols to the best of my ability.”
Albury noted there was an approved upcoming Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Cherokee Sound, Abaco.
He said special permission was granted based on “very strict adherence to the guidelines in place”.
“I think the government has been good about minimizing social gathering and parties and everything and the police are playing their role as well,” the MP said.
“It is definitely a concern we share.”
The emergency orders exempt the period December 20 through January 3, 2021 for social gatherings of no more than 10 people at a private residence or facility.
Asked whether there was any overt subversion of the guidelines on Abaco of late, Albury said: “Well, it’s a big area, so I don’t want to speak for 100 percent adherence, of course, because we have so many cays and settlements spread out over a big area. But the police know what they need to do, and I think we’re seeing a decrease in terms of advertised parties or anything like that. So, I am encouraged, but I am cautious.”
He appealed to Abaconians and those traveling to the island to protect the progress made in lowering cases.
“This is not the time to let your guard down and subvert the rules for the sake of enjoying the holidays,” he said.
“Please be safe. Wear your mask. Socially distance and just make smart decisions.”
Abaco observed a steady rise in cases in September and October.
Restrictive measures were reintroduced on New Providence and Abaco on October 9 amid the rapid rise in cases on both islands.
This included the discontinuation of indoor and outdoor dining, and a return of drive-thru, takeout and delivery service; a weekday curfew between 7pm and 5am and a weekend 24-hour curfew that began on Fridays at 7pm and ended on Mondays at 5am.
Those restrictions were progressively relaxed last month and earlier this month.
As of Tuesday, there have been 200 COVID-19 cases on Abaco since the start of the pandemic.