PLP leader suggests orders are contradictory, and done in “heated rush”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis last night called the activation of a partial nationwide lockdown and nightly curfews, with the exception of essential services, a rushed decision that could have “unintended consequences, adverse to the public”.
“Yesterday, our party urged the government to proceed with caution in the exercise of the powers under the state of emergency,” said Davis at the PLP’s headquarters on Farrington Road.
“It is our view that these measures must be for the benefit of Bahamian people.
“We are concerned that this is all done in a heated rush and may have unintended consequences, adverse to the public.
“I also pointed out yesterday that there was no evidence the Bahamian people need to be coerced into following directives and protocols, promulgated by the government and we reiterated our acceptance of the prime minister’s invitation to be a part of the process by providing recommendations as to how best to address the concerns that may mitigate against an effective response to this pandemic.
“It is a matter of regret that the prime minister promulgated these measures to which we have not had an opportunity to lend our voice, and to provide our views on the appropriate initiatives.”
The curfew will be in effect each night from 9pm to 5am, with exceptions to be approved by the commissioner of police.
The order took effect at 9am today, and will remain in effect until 9am on March 31.
All establishments, institutions, businesses, offices, stores and organizations will be forced to suspend operations to the general public.
The orders do not apply to doctor’s offices, hospitals or medical facilities; medical supply establishments; hotels and airports, which will remain open.
Wholesale or retail grocery stores and Farmers’ Markets; pharmacies; gas stations; laundromats and wash houses; and commercial ports and related businesses will also remain open to the public from 6am to 5pm.
Additionally, banks will open between 9am to 5pm.
The order further mandates that every person in such establishments or businesses must maintain the distance themselves from any other such person.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who announced the activation of the emergency orders, advised that construction companies carrying out any construction work will be allowed to do so from 6am to 7pm.
All other establishments or offices, inclusive of public service, shall maintain only essential staff for the performance of core functions while adhering at all times to social distancing with others working remotely.
Governor General CA Smith declared a public state of emergency Tuesday.
Davis said the measures will affect the lives of all Bahamian in “ways unknown in any of our lifetime”.
The opposition has urged the government to proceed with caution with the exercise of emergency powers under the state of emergency.
But Davis said the measures are inherently contradictory and could pose more challenges in the goal of protecting the citizenry.
He questioned the rationale for some of the excepted businesses, including hotels, and construction sites.
He said it is unrealistic that social distancing will be possible on a construction site, which can be hazardous at the best of times.
“Many of these regulations are a clear overreach with no benefit,” the PLP leader said.
“If you shut down the public transport system, how are many of the essential workers going to get to and from work; the gas station attendants; those who work in the food stores; the hospitals etc? Also, just as 10 numbers can attend a church service, why can’t 10 people attend a civic organization meeting? At the end of business hours, all of these people will go home to their families. How will this stop the spread of the virus?”
Davis said he stands prepared to provide advice to the government.
He said if there is a “true bipartisan spirit” his recommendation for widespread testing for COVID-19 would be admonished.