NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday announced a marginal pushback of the weekday curfew and the reopening of beaches and parks on New Providence and Abaco.
Amid rising cases, restrictions were imposed on both islands on October 9.
During a virtual Ministry of Health press conference, the prime minister said Cabinet agreed, after consulting with the health team, that effective Friday, an 8pm to 5am weekday curfew will apply to New Providence, Abaco and Grand Bahama.
A 10pm and 5am curfew currently exists in Grand Bahama.
Additional restrictions were announced for the island, which experienced a spike in cases following a superspreader event.
Weddings on the island will be limited to 10 people, while funerals will be limited to graveside only with 10 people.
All beaches and parks on New Providence and Abaco may open during weekdays effective Monday, November 2.
Groups must be limited to five individuals
Beaches and parks will remain closed during the 24-hour weekend curfews, which will be in effect on Fridays at 8pm through Mondays at 5am.
Minnis also advised residents on Abaco and New Providence will be permitted to exercise in their immediate neighborhoods on Saturdays and Sundays between 5am and 9am.
The prime minister advised that construction companies may apply to the competent authority for permission to operate over the 24-hour weekend curfew.
He also announced food stores will be permitted to open on Saturdays between 6am and 7pm on Abaco, giving residents an additional day to shop.
The subtle easement of restrictions comes as health officials advised that New Providence has begun to see a decrease in cases.
Data gleaned from available Ministry of Health reports show that New Providence recorded 417 cases last week, compared to 681 the week prior, a decrease of 38 percent.
However, health officials expressed concern yesterday about rising cases on Exuma, Andros, and Eleuthera.
According to the prime minister, an emergency health team will be dispatched to Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, and Harbour Island to assess the situation, following which a determination will be made on what measures may be needed to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Eleuthera had recorded 64 cases as of yesterday.
Nine of those cases were recorded since Sunday.
The prime minister said residents should get used to tightening and loosening of restrictions until there is a vaccine available.
He said when cases go up on an island, restrictions will be increased, and conversely, restrictions will be eased on islands with lowered cases.
“It is important that we understand that these cycles of tightening and loosening of restrictions are part of life in the pandemic,” he said.
“If cases spike and no restrictions are put in place, the virus will run wild and infect and kill more people.
“Countries around the world are going through their own similar cycles.
“In fact, some jurisdictions in Europe are currently imposing more aggressive restrictions than we have in The Bahamas.
“Some of them are going as far as multi-week lockdowns and stricter curfews.”