NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Amid a surge of coronavirus cases and concerns about recent deaths, the competent authority will impose additional restrictions on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera, ranging from an increased curfew to limitations on dining as of Monday at 5am.
During a Ministry of Health press conference, Minister of Health Renward Wells announced that based on the recommendations of health professionals, the curfew on the three islands will be adjusted to 10pm through 5am nightly.
Travel from New Providence, Grand Bahama and North and South Eleuthera, including Harbour Island, will require a negative RT-PCR test for those who have not been fully vaccinated.
Religious worship on New Providence and Grand Bahama will be limited to one hour and a maximum of 33 percent occupant capacity at the religious facility.
Meanwhile, funeral and cremation services will be prohibited indoors.
The requirement for funeral and burial services to be held at the graveside only will also be reintroduced on Monday.
According to Wells, a maximum of 30 people, excluding the officiant and workers, will be permitted to attend funerals and weddings, the latter of which may continue indoors and outdoors.
Repasts will be prohibited.
Exercise groups will be limited to 10 people and recreational sporting will not be permitted.
However, professional athletes will be permitted to continue to train.
Groups on beaches and at parks should not exceed five people.
Wells also announced that the maximum capacity at gyms and movie theatres will be limited to 33 percent occupancy.
Restaurant operations on the islands named will also be restricted to outdoor dining and takeaway services, but vaccinated individuals may continue to dine indoors.
“It is encouraged that there be no loitering of groups outside restaurants or at the Fish Fry,” the minister said.
“These restrictions, however, do not apply to hotel properties.”
Spas will also be prohibited from opening as of Monday.
Wells said that refers to facilities that offer massages, waxes, threading of hair and facials.
As it relates to the entire Bahamas, private gatherings will be restricted to five people, provided all individuals gathering have been vaccinated.
Wells also announced restrictions for political groups, with a vaccination requirement for those campaigning.
“Persons who are campaigning must be fully vaccinated and campaigning teams are restricted to five persons,” he said.
He called on Bahamians to adhere to the public health protocols, though it was acknowledged that COVID fatigue has set in among the public.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan likened what she called a “disturbing” increase in COVID-19 cases, reflected by graphs, to a plane at takeoff.
Officials maintained that vaccination is the key to getting the nation out of the pandemic, insisting that while the vaccine does not stop inoculated individuals from getting the virus, it substantially reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.
More than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in The Bahamas, with over 40,000 individuals fully vaccinated.
A woman, 53, died from COVID on Thursday and an additional 110 cases were confirmed.
Total deaths from the virus stood at 280, with 23 deaths still under investigation.
Hospitalizations increased to 92 — a more than 100 percent increased since the end of June, pushing the healthcare sector to capacity.
Ten hospitalized cases remain in Intensive Care Units.
Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) Chief Administrator Mary Walker revealed that PMH’s cases grew from 39 to over 50 on Friday and the hospital has lost over 90 beds due to exposures on certain wards.