ONE MORE TIME: PM extends state of emergency but promises this is the final round

ONE MORE TIME: PM extends state of emergency but promises this is the final round
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis delivers a national address on Monday, August 9, 2021. (BIS)

Curfew adjusted on four islands, including New Providence

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced last night that the government will seek one final extension of the emergency orders for three months, following which The Bahamas will come under a new legislative regime by way of the Public Health Preparedness and Management Bill.

The current state of emergency was set to come to an end on August 13.

“This will be the last extension of these orders,” Minnis said during a national address yesterday.

“After approval by Parliament, I can announce that the emergency orders will end at the very latest [on] November 13, 2021.

“Tomorrow, I will table in the House of Assembly for consultation the new proposed legal regime for The Bahamas with the end of the emergency orders.

“We will table for widespread public consultation the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Management Bill, 2021.

“Let me emphasize that this is only a draft. 
It is not the final bill.”

To make the legislation more representative, the prime minister said the government is seeking input from NGOs, the private sector, the religious community, the opposition and the wider public.

The government had previously advised it would allow the emergency orders to come to an end, though that decision was hinged on the circumstances concerning COVID-19 cases in the nation.

Yesterday, the prime minister said the government had to adjust its plans and forgo the new legislative framework outside of the state of emergency to save lives, noting The Bahamas was “battling the worst period of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Underscoring record cases and hospitalizations in recent days and the need to mitigate spread, the prime minister announced a tightening of the nightly curfew on a number of islands.

As of Wednesday, the curfew on Exuma and Abaco will be adjusted to 10pm to 5am, while New Providence and Grand Bahama will see a 9pm to 5am curfew imposed.

“I wish to note that the curfews will be strictly enforced and that enforcement is being increased,” Minnis stressed.



Minnis again noted that vaccination is important to reaching a post-emergency orders regime.

He also announced that the government has concluded negotiations to acquire “new vaccines” that will allow The Bahamas over the next few months to have the capacity to vaccinate all Bahamians and residents who wish to be inoculated against COVID-19.

The prime minister said even with a large percentage of Bahamians vaccinated, the virus will not disappear, but this will protect the public and mitigate high cases and hospitalizations.

Minnis once again urged the populous to get vaccinated and encouraged continued adherence to COVID-19 health protocols.

“What our vaccine supply will do is allow us to give a significant percentage of our population protection,” Minnis said.

“This will, in time, lessen the likelihood that we will have large-scale surges that cause extremely high hospitalizations.

“In the coming days, I will have more to say about the expansion of our vaccination program.”

Although the prime minister noted the importance of vaccination, he assured it will remain voluntary and acknowledged the concerns of those who still have questions about the jab.

Minnis noted that the vaccination site at Baha Mar will open Tuesday and said over 2,000 doses will be able to be administered per day as more vaccination sites open.

The prime minister also said that while the government does not have official confirmation that the more contagious variant, delta, is spreading throughout communities, it must be assumed that it has arrived “out of an abundance of caution”.

He acknowledged that this is a difficult time for families amid a continued spike in cases and deaths, and called on the nation to pray for families who have lost loved ones and those who remain sick and struggling for their lives.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.