GRAND BAHAMA, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday foreshadowed a further easing of restrictions on Grand Bahama, beginning with an extension of the recognized 10pm curfew on the island.
Speaking to reporters on Grand Bahama, Minnis said once the island continues to perform well in preventing the spread of COVID-19, it will be “freed up”.
“I have discussed with [The Ministry of] Health and I know the curfew in Grand Bahama is at 10 o’clock and sometime this weekend or this week, we should be able to move Grand Bahama to 11 o’clock,” he said.
“I think that would be very helpful, especially for the restaurants. And if Grand Bahama continues as is [with] the mitigation protocols for COVID, I expect Grand Bahama will be freed up even more.
“I won’t care to say at this particular time the ‘liberalization’, but there will be some more liberalization, getting Grand Bahama ready.”
The prime minister touted the success of Family Islands during the pandemic, with few cases impacting many of the archipelago’s smaller communities.
He said maintaining low COVID-19 numbers is key to bolstering The Bahamas’ economy.
“The economy will start to boom,” Minnis said.
“I expect not only Grand Bahama, but New Providence and the Family Islands, and I am extremely grateful, during the COVID era, of the Family Islands that performed, because…people tend to neglect the Family Islands.
“But the Family Islands had remained basically COVID-free, minimal COVID, and the tourist product was still functioning.
“So, the Family Islands were really doing [their] part to the entire Bahamian economy.”
There have been few confirmed cases on Grand Bahama in recent days as the country observes low single-digit cases each day.
In Parliament this week, Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper questioned the government on why Exuma remained under certain COVID-19 restrictions enforced last year when the island was experiencing a surge of cases and deemed a hotspot.
Exuma has had only one infection in the last month, and two infections since January 1, 2021.
“There are some lingering concerns in relation to the emergency orders as it relates to Exuma,” Cooper said.
“…I call on the minister of health to examine the science and the guidelines that continue to cause Exuma to be under the same restrictions as last year when it was deemed a hotspot.”
He continued: “For example, parents and teachers on Exuma are eager to begin face-to-face learning, but [are] prohibited from doing so.
“It is time for all of the restrictions as it relates to Exuma to be reviewed and to be harmonized with other low-risk islands.”
Health officials confirmed nine additional infections on Wednesday — eight on New Providence and one on Grand Bahama.
Total cases were pushed to 8,311, of which 1,148 remain active.
There have been a total of 1,192 cases on Grand Bahama and 6,022 cases on New Providence.
On the 13 other islands where COVID cases have been confirmed, there have been 739 cases.
Another 358 cases have no location and remain in the category “locations pending”.
There have been 122 confirmed cases on Exuma.