Davis questions rationale over beach closures

Davis questions rationale over beach closures
Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Davis (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday questioned the prime minister’s rationale for closing some public beaches and parks over the Independence Holiday weekend, just days after the country reopened its borders to international flights.

Davis was asked about the decision to close beaches and parks in New Providence and Grand Bahama during a press conference at PLP headquarters.

“It is right for him to be questioned on the rationale for closing the beaches this weekend,” said Davis.

“It doesn’t seem to be based on any scientific or medical advice, because if it is opened now, why can’t it be opened over the weekend.

“Yes you may have concerns about persons gathering, I would have thought the answer to that would be just to ensure that the beaches are policed efficiently and to ensure that the protocols established for stopping the spread would be adhered to, social distancing on the beaches and only cluster  families with a limited amount of families.

“That would have been the answer in my view.”

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced in Parliament on Monday that the closure will take effect at 10pm on Thursday, until 5am on July 13, on New Providence, Paradise Island and the surrounding cays and Grand Bahama.

He underscored the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases in the United States, particularly Florida, Texas, and Arizona, insisting that the decision was made in order to avoid the possibility of similar spreads.

As of yesterday, the United States recorded 3,096,503 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with over 54,000 recorded in a single day.

Yesterday, Davis said: “He’s not only excited. I think he is now becoming overwhelmed by the fact that he could do things as he is doing without accounting to anyone. I think it’s gone to his head now.

“I think the closing down of the beaches this weekend, speaks to that.”

The country reopened its borders to international flights on Wednesday, however a state of emergency and curfew remains in place until July 31.

Excursions and tours will not be allowed to operate until July 13, while jet ski operators and vendors won’t be able to resume business until July 27.

The total number of COVID-19 cases has remained at 104 for just over three weeks.

However, officials maintain that while community spread has been contained and the curve has been flattered, the risk of a second wave remains.

Governor-General C. A Smith signed a new state of emergency proclamation on June 30, after the government failed to pass a resolution extending the initial state of emergency proclamation which expired that night.

The issuance of the new proclamation has sparked confusion among the Parliamentary caucus over whether the order was properly constituted.

Attorney General Carl Bethel has maintained the proclamation of emergency, all orders and regulations are in full force effect.

However, Davis said it remains unclear whether the proclamation was tabled within the allotted five days in Senate as outlined by Parliamentary rules.

“It was laid in The House of Assembly in the Lower House,” he said.

“In the Upper House, from all accounts, it was not laid within the five days, because if it was laid within the five days why would the attorney general seek to lay it yesterday and to use the words ‘out of an abundance of caution’, suggest to me that it was not laid on Friday, therefore it would be outside the five day period.

“So it is questionable, therefore I will watch very closely the proceeding in the Senate tomorrow to determine how that is resolved because it then calls into question whether or not the proclamation can now remain in place and whether the measures made sense that was laid are now legal.”

On Friday, Bethel tabled the document in the evening sitting of the Senate after the opposition questioned whether the morning sitting was constitutional, given that they had not been summoned by the Governor-General – according to parliamentary rules.

The morning sitting of the Senate was then suspended to allow the Governor-General to issue a summons to convene the Senate and the documents were laid later that day.