END TO ORDERS?: PM foresees three more months of state of emergency

END TO ORDERS?: PM foresees three more months of state of emergency
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in the House of Assembly. (BIS PHOTO/ULRIC WOODSIDE)

Cases decline just over four percent week-over-week

AG advises ordinary COVID legislation still in draft phase

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamians could return to “normal life” with the potential discontinuation of the public state of emergency in August, according to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, who tabled a resolution in Parliament that seeks to extend the orders to August 13.

The prime minister also tabled the latest proclamation of a state of emergency, which took effect on May 14 and will last for 14 days if Parliament does not extend it.

As he read the proclamation from the governor general, Minnis said: “It is our hope we would not need the three months.

“It is our hope that with the vaccination aggressively and progressively moving throughout the works and continues in The Bahamas, and with the cooperation of our populous following the mitigation protocols of the pandemic, that [we] would see a return, once that commences.

“We would love to remove the emergency powers orders so that individuals can return back to their normal life, following the new protocols of the world standard what the world will put forth as quickly as possible. It is our hope, Mr Speaker, that we will not need the three months…”

The resolution to extend the emergency orders will be debated at the next sitting of the House of Assembly, according to the prime minister.

A public state of emergency has been in effect since last March.

There have been four separate proclamations during that time.

In February, Attorney General Carl Bethel indicated the government was drafting a bill that will create a “new framework” for permanent COVID-19 legislation concerning the health aspects of the emergency orders, while an advisory committee will advise the minister responsible on the civil aspects of the orders.

The advisory committee is expected to be comprised of the government, the opposition and health professionals, and will advise the minister.

According to Bethel, the committee will have parliamentary oversight.

At the time, the attorney general said the bills were in the final draft stage before submission to the Cabinet.

Attorney General Carl Bethel. (FILE PHOTO)

When contacted yesterday, Bethel told Eyewitness News that legislation was still in the draft phase, but would be finalized before August.

He said the government has to determine to what extent it restricts its powers amid the ongoing third wave as curfews and travel restrictions that amount to restrictions of movement — a Constitutional provision — could not be enforced in ordinary legislation passed by the government.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in The Bahamas, with the majority of cases stemming from New Providence.

Last week, there were 317 cases recorded, a marginal decline of 4.5 percent compared to the 332 cases the week prior.

Hospitalizations have also trended downward in the last week.

As of May 2, there were 50 hospitalized cases.

Eight more cases were hospitalized that week, pushing the total to 58.

As of Sunday, hospitalizations declined to 46 — a decline of 20 percent.

The Bahamas recorded 41 coronavirus cases on Sunday, continuing a trend of high double-digit cases since April.

Of the new infections, there were 28 on New Providence, nine on Andros, two on Grand Bahama, one on the Berry Islands and one with a pending location.

Total cases stood at 11,225, of which 847 were active.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.