New emergency order closes Bahamas for business

New emergency order closes Bahamas for business
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis (Yontalay Bowe, BIS)
  • New emergency order implements “shelter in place orders”

  • Public beaches to be closed with immediate effect

  • All travel except outgoing flights and cargo to be discontinued

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Four days into a partial nationwide lockdown and a mandatory nightly curfew, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday announced a complete nationwide lockdown that will close the nation’s borders to all visitors, and introduce a 24-hour curfew with the exception of visits to essential services.

The Emergency Powers (COVID-19) NO.2) Order 2020, which mandates a curfew for twenty-four hours per day, will take effect at 9 am today and will remain in effect until 9 am on March 31.

All businesses, establishment and offices, including the public service, may only continue their operations by allowing their employees to work remotely from home.

“Where a business is unable to have employees work remotely from home, that business shall cease its operations,” the order read.

The measure does not apply to essential workers and essential business and services.

Doctor’s offices, hospitals or medical facilities; medical supply establishments and hotels will remain open, though the latter is prevented from operating any casinos, spas, gym, discos or restaurants, though restaurants may offer room service or takeaway.

Wholesale or retail grocery stores and Farmer’s Markets; will open between 6 am and 7 pm. The order stipulates that the first two hours of opening will be reserved for seniors, persons with disabilities and essential workers.

Pharmacies, gas stations, and commercial ports will open from 6 am to 5 pm.

Banks will remain open between 9 am and 5 pm.

Golden Treasure Chinese Take Out Restaurant on Farrington Road remained closed on March 23, 2020, despite takeaway restaurants being allowed to remain open between 6am and 7:30 pm. (Keval Williams, EWN)

Drive-thru or take away food vendors, and pet food stores, will remain open between 6 am to 7:30 pm.

Construction work of any sort, apart from urgent home plumbing, electrical repairs or roof repairs shall cease as of 7 pm today.

As stipulated in the original order, the new order mandates that all customers and staff in such establishments or businesses maintain a six feet distance.

These establishments and businesses must also determine the number of people to allow in at a time to ensure that at any one time, there is a ratio of one person to every 30 square feet of store space; within 24 hours, place distance markers on the ground of six feet, indicating where customers must stand in line; and place the same on the outside of the establishment, indicating where customers must stand while waiting to enter.

The Fish Fry at Arawak Cay and other “occasional markets” throughout The Bahamas shall be closed with immediate effect.

According to the order, all public beaches shall be closed to the public.

Beach gathering
A group of men swimming in waters off West Bay Street on Monday, March 23, 2020, despite orders mandating social distancing. (Keval Williams/EWN)

Governor General CA Smith declared a public state of emergency last Tuesday, paving the way for mandatory social distancing, curfew, detention and isolation measures.

The order announced yesterday instructs every individual, excluding for essential workers, to remain to the confines of their residence, including their yard space, to avoid contact outside of the family, except for essential travel to the doctor, grocery store, bank, pharmacy or gas station to refuel.

The order permits exercise outdoors “whether alone or together with family members living under the same roof”, but only for up to an hour and a half between 5 am and 9 pm.

Even in these instances, each person must maintain a six feet distance from any other person.

An ‘essential worker’ includes: the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Fire Services, the Department of Correctional Services, National insurance Board, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Environmental Health Services: the Department of Immigration; the Customs Department, waste and sanitation companies; any hospital, and healthcare or medical facility.

Essential workers also include: essential officers of any water, electricity or other sector encompassing the provision of electronic communications including print and electronic media.

While the order maintains that all religious and educational places shall remain closed, it does not prohibit worship, learning or other activities by electronic or virtual means; nor does it prohibit individual attendance at a church for private individual prayer while maintaining social distancing.

Border closure

The order mandates that to prevent and suppress the spread of the virus, all airports, and fixed-based operation shall be closed to incoming international flights carrying any visitor, without the written permission of the “competent authority”; all sea ports shall be closed to regional and international seafaring and private boating; no visitor shall be permitted to enter or disembark for any reason, including transiting through The Bahamas.

However, the order does not prohibit outgoing flights or ships; cargo flight or cargo ships; commercial courier flights; emergency medical flights and emergency flights approved by the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority.

The order also mandates that no person shall offer hire or seek to travel on any mail boat, sailing inter-island, except for transport or freight; or inter-island private commercial sea port.

Every dock in The Bahamas, including Potter’s Cay dock, shall be closed to any commercial activity and sales of any items to the general public, including fish, conch or any such catch.

Any person, company or organization who contravenes any order will be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and/or a prison term of up to 18 months.

During a national address Monday, the prime minister many Bahamians were not taking the global pandemic, which he called “an enemy to our livelihood”, seriously enough.

There have been four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

5 comments

can a bahamian citizen get back into bahamas via private boat if they were abroad? it is unclear

What about non-Bahamian voyager’s on private boats at anchor? Without coming on land, can we continue on or make way home to US?

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