NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ decision to close beaches on New Providence, Paradise Island and Grand Bahama over the Independence holiday weekend received a flurry of mixed reactions from the public on social media yesterday.
While many were outraged and strongly criticized the decision and the government, others defended the move.
The closure of beaches and parks will take effect Thursday at 10pm, until 5am next Monday, July 13.
As he addressed Parliament, the prime minister underscored the ongoing surge of new infections in the US, particularly Florida, Texas and Arizona.
He said the government was aware of what may have contributed to some of the surge.
Yesterday, Tee Moss, a New Providence resident, said the Bahamian government appeared to be piggybacking off the US’ policies when the population and case rates in the US and The Bahamas were vastly different.
“We have just gotten the beaches back and now you play with us like kids, putting us on time out,” he said.
“This is a nation of free citizens, not your children.
“it’s time to go jack. I don’t know who is voting FNM, but only a dog would be that [expletive].”
Due to the rising cases in the US, the fourth of July celebrations were cancelled and some beaches in Florida, California and Texas closed in an effort to discourage large crowds.
Rochelle Sturrup added: “So the virus [go] up on the beach on Independence then? You want to talk about surge in numbers in Florida to justify this [expletive], but the surge in numbers didn’t matter on July 1 when you reopened for international flights.”
Jemeka Wilkinson said it was counterintuitive to open the borders to visitors, particularly Americans who are experiencing surges of cases of COVID in their jurisdiction, if the government wished to mitigate risks.
The resumption of commercial carriers into The Bahamas occurred on July 1.
Beaches reopened on June 29.
Wilkinson said it was absurd the rights of the Bahamian people were being “yanked around”.
“While I get there are some who will break the law, there are many doing the right thing suffering,” she said.
However, Beatrice Clarke said Bahamians were “ungrateful”.
She said those lashing the prime minister do not understand the issues at hand.
“Take a look at the United States and what they are going through all because the [masses] wanted to go on the beaches,” Clarke said.
“Keep y’all virus in y’all household and stay [your] [expletive] home.”
Kenneth Richie agreed.
He said a leader must lead and expressed support for the decision to close the beach as a help toward the public being “responsible in our movement”.
Bradford Roker-Saunders said the decision was about “managing risks”.
“Our recent behavior suggests that we will not follow social distancing rules, so [expletive] off the beaches. We cannot arrest and fine thousands, so this is the best option.”
Others labelled the prime minister an “emperor” and “dictator”.
“The dictator is now the emperor and The Bahamas is officially a police state,” said Joseph Ferguson, adding that there was nothing that could be done about it.
Curtis Reno asserted the decision appeared to be prejudicial.
“The beaches are only closed to black Bahamian population who use the regular beaches,” he said.
“The beaches over Paradise Island — the hotels — tourists and gated communities will be enjoying our beaches.
“This emergency order, lockdowns, are no longer about COVID.
“It’s about a police state stripping away our rights.”
Antoine Wallace said with high summer temperatures, the move was “unthinkable”.
He opined the rights of Bahamians were being “stifled and taken away”.
“What is the medical justification for this madness,” he continued.
“Which country opens up its borders in a state of emergency?
“My God, it is our country’s Independence.
“This nonsense must stop. Stand up Bahamians. Stand up for your rights.”
Stacey Smith charged that without a new case in over three weeks, and no COVID-19-related deaths since April, there was no reason to close the beaches.
There have been no few infections in New Providence in 22 days, Grand Bahama in 61 days and Bimini in 51 days.
As of yesterday, the total number of cases remained at 104.
However, only four cases remain active.
Health officials said last month the curve of the virus had been flattened, and while cases could appear in clusters, community spread had been curbed.