- COVID-19 order takes effect 9am Friday
- Airports will remain open, non-essential intl. and domestic travel discouraged
- Weddings and funerals must be kept under 10 people
- Drive-thrus will remain open during day, construction work will cont.
- All trained nurses, officers on vacation, retirement asked to report to work
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced a nation-wide partial shutdown for the next 11 days as officials ramp up measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Order, 2020, include a nightly curfew and shutdown of all non-essential businesses and organizations, public transportation and commercial sailing; and all events, parties or gatherings.
At a press conference, Minnis stressed these were temporary measures as all residents must play a role in protecting the health of families and loved ones from the highly contagious virus.
The curfew will be in effect each night from 9pm to 5am, with exceptions to be approved by the commissioner of police.
The order takes effect at 9am tomorrow, and will remain in effect until 9am on March 31.
The prime minister said the order will be lifted upon consultation with health officials.
Minnis said: “This crisis is developing daily and the Government of The Bahamas will make adjustments as necessary in the best interest of the public health and safety of the Bahamian people and residents of The Bahamas.
“I thank all of those on the frontline of this battle for their courage, compassion and dedication to the health, security and well- being of Bahamians and residents.”
He added: “The orders that I am about to announce are very strong, but they will save lives, which is my greatest responsibility as prime minister.”
All establishments, institutions, businesses, offices, stores and organizations will be forced to suspend operations to the general public.
However, doctor’s offices, hospitals or medical facilities; medical supply establishments; hotels and airports will remain open.
Wholesale or retail grocery stores and Farmers’ Markets; pharmacies; gas stations; laundromats and wash houses; and commercial ports and related businesses will remain open to the public from 6am to 5pm.
Banks will open between 9am to 5pm.
Drive thru or take away food vendors will be allowed to open from 6am to 7.30pm; and construction companies carrying out any construction work will be allowed to do so from 6am to 7pm.
Establishments that remain open are ordered to restrict the number of customers inside their place of business to allow for social distancing of at least three to six feet from any other person.
The order also mandates every person in such establishments or businesses must maintain this distance themselves from any other such person.
All other establishments or offices, inclusive of public service, shall maintain only essential staff for the performance of core functions while adhering at all times to social distancing with others working remotely.
Governor General CA Smith declared a public state of emergency Tuesday.
In Parliament Wednesday, the prime minister laid the emergency regulations, giving himself and government wide-sweeping powers related to mandatory detention, isolation, curfew, requisitions of building, and criminalizing the posting or sharing of fake news.
The order announced today mandates every person shall remain in the confines of their dwelling home, inclusive of their yard space.
It prohibits anyone from hosting or attending: a private party which includes any person from outside of the immediate household of the house occupant; a recreational or competitive sporting event; a wedding which hosts ten or more persons other than the bride, bridegroom, official witnesses and the marriage officer; a banquet, ball or reception; any social event; a funeral, except ten members of the immediate family and at least one officiant and essential mortuary staff; or a meeting of a fraternal society, private or social club or civic association or organization.
The order further stipulates that: “no person shall offer for hire or seek to travel on any public bus transportation; mail boat, sailing inter island, except for transport of freight; or inter island private commercial sea transport that is non- essential”.
Visitation to any place of quarantine or isolation station or correctional facility is prohibited; while hospital or residential care visits have been restricted to one person at a time.
The order does not apply to essential officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Fire Services, the Department of Correctional Services, the National Insurance Board, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Environmental Health Services, the Department of Immigration, the Customs Department, waste and sanitation workers, and staff within any hospital or health care or medical facility.
Minnis said trucks, personnel tankers and vehicles working with gas stations and gas facilities will be exempt from the curfew.
It also does not affect the function by essential officers of “any water, electricity or other sectors encompassing the provision of electronic communications including print and electronic media”.
The order does not prohibit religious or educational instruction, worship or other activity by electronic or virtual means; nor does it prohibit individual attendance at a church for private individual prayer while maintaining social distancing.
If convicted, anyone who is found in contravention of the order will face a fine up to $10,000, a prison term up to 18 months, or both.