ON AND ON: Resolution to extend state of emergency and emergency orders to August 13 passed in Senate

ON AND ON: Resolution to extend state of emergency and emergency orders to August 13 passed in Senate

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The resolution to extend the state of emergency and emergency orders to August 13 was passed in the Senate on Thursday.

Opposition senators did not support the resolution, once again arguing that the set of protocols put in place to allow the government to manage the COVID-19 pandemic is undemocratic and is a suspension of civil liberties.

Attorney General Carl Bethel underscored the need for The Bahamas to stay under emergency protocols to continue to mitigate the global pandemic.

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Bethel, who vehemently hit back against the opposition, insisted the emergency order gives guidance for Bahamians on what conduct is required to preserve not only their safety but the safety of others.

“That does not involve a suspension of any liberty,” he added.

“It involves protection, not only of the individual who may be protected but of everybody else who is around that person.”

Senator Fred Mitchell, however, doubled down on his position, calling the restrictive measures “purely abusive”.

“That’s why we have to get rid of it,” Mitchell said.

“We can’t have this as [a] kind of new normal where we accept this nonsense.”

He said the government’s rationale for locking the country down last year when there were fewer than 20 cases “did not work”.

“There is an irony I find that in March of last year, when this whole pandemic sprung on The Bahamas, there were, I would say, fewer than 20 or so cases, maybe fewer than a dozen,” Mitchell said.

“At that time the whole country was shut down.

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Senator Fred Mitchell.

“…And now there are thousands of cases but the country is being opened up. So, you ask yourself what was the reason for shutting the country down in the first place? Obviously, whatever they did, it did not work because the virus is more widespread than it ever was in the country.”

A public state of emergency has been in effect since last March, along with teetering lockdowns and daily curfews.

The governor general recently issued a new proclamation declaring a continued state of emergency, which came into effect on May 14.

There have been four separate proclamations since the first one last year.

Bethel on Thursday maintained that those restrictions have been effective, along with efforts to vaccinate the country.

He noted, however, that Bahamians have to implement more discipline to slow the spread of cases.

“The difference now is that beginning in late December and early January, there was talk of variants and the potential of variants,” he said.

“And those variants have now spread all over the world. And the way in which people are affected has shifted from the most vulnerable to younger and younger people.

“So, yes, we opened because we are vaccinating our people.

“People have learned and have more discipline. But there are some elements in society who have COVID fatigue and this poses challenges that we must be able to surmount.”

The attorney general also signaled that the government intends to table the 2021/2022 fiscal budget this week.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.