EXUMA LOCKDOWN: PM shuts down domestic travel as COVID-19 cases soar

EXUMA LOCKDOWN: PM shuts down domestic travel as COVID-19 cases soar
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced new emergency measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on Exuma tonight.

As he announced a 24-hour weekend curfew and the restriction of all domestic travel from the island, he urged residents to adhere to the measures to mitigate the “exponential spread” of the virus.

“I know that this is short notice,” Minnis said.

“But such a measure is a critical part of the strategy to contain and to control the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country. This measure is designed to stop possible spikes on other islands because of individuals who may be COVID 19 positive quickly moving to other islands.”

As of yesterday, there were 79 cases on the island of Exuma.

Of that number, 28 cases are active, and two are hospitalized.

There was also one COVID-19 related death reported, Minnis said.

Minnis said health officials have observed an exponential increase on Exuma following the October holiday weekend and two major events.

Effective tomorrow, domestic travel by air or sea vessels is prohibited in and out of Exuma except for exemptions provided in the emergency orders and approved by officials.

Anyone traveling from Exuma to any other island in The Bahamas will be required to have a negative COVID RT-PCR test.

Minnis said a negative diagnostic test will be required in order to leave the island of Exuma except where exemptions are allowed in emergency powers order.

On Friday, November 13, Exuma will go into a 24-hour weekend lockdown at 6pm, ending Monday 5am. During the weekend curfew, business operations will not be allowed to open.

The weekday curfew will take effect this Thursday, from Monday to Friday 6pm to 5am.

Minnis said commercial activity may continue as normal during the week, except as follows: fish fries, bars and restaurants connected to bars.

“Private and public social gatherings are not allowed,” he said.

“Funeral services may take place at the graveside only and will be limited to 10 people, not including officiant and caretakers. Wedding limited to 10 people, not including officiants.”

Repass and receptions are also prohibited.

“Church services may take place only by virtual means,” Minnis said.

“A maximum of 10 persons may provide live stream services from the sanctuary. In-person classroom instruction is also prohibited but may take place by virtual means.”

During a live broadcasted statement, Minnis said the country has made considerable progress with restrictive measures in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco.

A team from the Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Unit and contact tracers have been deployed to Exuma, and the number of health officials on the island has also been increased.

Minnis said the efforts of a similar team on Eleuthera have proven successful as all positive cases on the island are in isolation and all of their contacts are in quarantine, being closely monitored.

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