NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis today decried the decision to continue to allow “wealthy friends” of the Minnis administration to enter The Bahamas on private aircraft and vessels.
In a statement, Davis said: “It makes no sense that the FNM administration continues to allow their wealthy friends to come and go as they like, on private boats and planes. This clearly presents a risk, as it did while Bahamians were fully locked down under curfew.”
During a national address on Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced international commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter The Bahamas’ borders, except for commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
This will come into effect as of Wednesday, July 22 at midnight.
Bahamasair will cease outgoing flights to the United States of America, effective immediately.
Private international flights and charters, as well as private pleasure craft and yachts from all countries may still to enter The Bahamas.
The prime minister also announced the closure of beaches on New Providence, Paradise Island and surrounding cays beginning today.
Davis accused the prime minister of blaming Bahamians for what he called government’s inequities despite the public’s sacrifice to observe all orders imposed.
Ahead of the decision to reopen the borders, the official opposition pointed to the associated risks and the need to take precautions to get it right.
As a part of its recommendations, the PLP’s COVID-19 task force repeatedly urged for wider testing and expanding the country’s capacity for contact tracing.
“If the country was free of COVID-19 at the time of re-opening, as the prime minister declared, then any new cases were imported,” he said.
“The focus therefore has to be at the borders.
“And yet the prime minister continues to focus on criticizing Bahamians.
“When fresh air and exercise are critical to a nation under great stress, he closes the beaches, rather than set up guidelines to make them as safe as possible. There is no scientific basis for this decision, just a need to dictate to Bahamians.
“I want to be very clear: Threatening and punishing Bahamians is not the solution to this health crisis.”
Davis stressed that the government’s protocols has loopholes and it the lack of proper enforcement at the borders has become obvious.
He again recommended improving testing and contact tracing program to halt the spread of the virus.
He also condemned the original decision to allow Bahamians and residents travelling for less than 72-hours to return without being required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar admitted that one or two visitors “slipped in”.
The PLP leader lamented the lack of case specifics or outlined remedies to correct the issue.
Davis said there is no basis to allow “wealthy friends” of the Minnis administration to come and go as the choose on private aircraft and vessels — an allowance that he said “clearly presents a risk, as it did while Bahamians were fully locked down under curfew”.
He also called on the government to outline clear plans for Grand Bahama, which has seen 31 of the 49 new infections since July 1.
Confirmed cases as of today stood at 153, according to the Ministry of Health.