Davis: Bahamas cannot afford a misstep with reopening

Davis: Bahamas cannot afford a misstep with reopening
Philip Davis, Opposition Leader (FILE PHOTO)

WHO said Friday the world has entered “new and dangerous” phase of pandemic

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday raised concern over whether the government has implemented sufficient safety protocols to ready The Bahamas and its citizens for the influx of potentially virus carrying visitors upon the reopening of the country’s borders to international traffic.

“Re-opening on July 1 is not going to solve our economic crisis, but it will increase the risk that COVID- 19 spreads in our communities.

“We’re ten days away. Where are the detailed, specific plans for keeping Bahamians safe?”

He added: “Getting the details of re-opening wisely is crucial for the safety of Bahamians, and crucial for the reputation of our country,” Davis said.

“Over the last few months we have seen stumbles and blunders and missteps from this government. We can’t afford more of those.

“We support the re-opening of our country, but it has to be done right. This is not going to be like turning on a light switch; re-opening will not instantly bring back the vast majority of lost jobs.”

The government has mandated that all individuals, inclusive of tourists, must test negative for COVID-19 before traveling to The Bahamas after July 1.

But Davis said allowing visitors to enter with negative test results is not a cure-all, and there should be protocols for mobilizing quickly if a visitor develops symptoms of the virus while in The Bahamas.

The PLP leader said there is a limited extent to which opening in days can help relieve the economic strain on The Bahamas.

He said, however, the pandemic has intensified in recent weeks and conditions are similar to or even worse than those when the country first closed its borders in March.

On Friday, the World Health Organization said the world has entered a “new and dangerous phase” of the pandemic, as cases in the United States spiraled in numerous western and southern states, including Florida.

Texas has seen cases double in the past month — the sixth state to see cases rise to over 100,000.

Davis said many people remain too worried about health risks to travel or cannot afford it, noting that more than 40 million people have filed claims for jobless benefits in the United States in the past 10 weeks.

Davis raised a series of questions, including the testing capacity for visitors and Bahamians, plans for each Family Island that has unique challenges, and whether isolation facilities were being closed.

He also asked whether doctors were on call for every hotel property, if those properties had sufficient protection for employees and how the government was enforcing its reopening policies.

“If the government has detailed plans for keeping Bahamians safe once visitors return, they have not shared them.

“If the government has a serious plan to protect Bahamians from the worst of the economic crisis, they have not shared that with the public, either.”

He said while the government has greeted its past proposals with “juvenile attacks”, the opposition’s task force is prepared to collaborate with the government on policies to keep Bahamians safe.

He said he hopes the government re-assesses the “wisdom of that approach” as a lot is at stake.