NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Notwithstanding “differing” views on the allowance of international commercial carriers to travel to Eleuthera during its recent partial lockdown, Central and South Eleuthera MP Hank Johnson said the restrictive measures have yielded favorable results.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Johnson, who called for more restrictive measures to mitigate a surge of cases, did not say on which side of the divide he stood.
“I am more than happy, more than pleased,” Johnson said.
“And I think the folks on the island, my constituents, are happy too.
“And so, while it might have been a rough decision and it was a tough decision to make, it was done, and so far, it is favorable.”
Spanish Wells and Harbour Island were exempted from the increased restrictions.
Cases of coronavirus have since declined on Eleuthera, and the restrictions have been moderately eased.
There have been zero cases recorded on the island in the last few days.
“Eleuthera is looking well,” Johnson said.
“We’ve had a lot of bookings.
“We’ve lost quite a bit because of the lockdowns.
“I do apologize to every business house and every business person on the island of Eleuthera, but the government and the health team had to do what they had to do and now the results are positive, so we are looking for a better season.
“But if we had allowed this thing to continue to grow, Eleuthera would have definitely would not have been able to have a successful tourism season.”
On November 9, restrictive measures imposed included a weekday curfew from 6pm to 5am and a 24-hour weekend lockdown.
Domestic flights to the island and travel by sea in and out of the island were prohibited.
“Let me explain to you basically why international flights continued in there,” Johnson said.
“And this is where a lot of people have found they were differing about.
“The fact of the matter is the country opened up on the 1st.
“All major carriers were flying into the island.
“The government was not aware that Eleuthera would have had such a high rate of cases at that time that we did, and so, the government had to make a decision and they had to continue to allow those international carriers in there because they went back and re-promoted the route, and they were up and running.
“And so, that’s basically why they were in there, coming in and they’re still coming here.”
According to Johnson, visitors to the island followed protocols, including the follow-up antigen test on the fifth day.
The MP was unable to say how many international flights or tourists have arrived on the island since the tourism reopening on November 1.
“But I can tell you during the Thanksgiving weekend, Eleuthera was doing well with tourists, according to the sources that I got back from the island,” he said.
When asked about international flights being permitted to travel to Eleuthera during partial border closure, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen, who has charge of border control, said he was “unaware”.
Yesterday, Minister of Health Renward Wells was also asked about international flights traveling to the island amid measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.
He told Eyewitness News: ”I am not aware. He’d have to explain that. I am not aware.”