NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has ordered a police probe after a weekend wedding he authorized in Harbour Island did not appear to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
The Office of the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday that permission was granted by the competent authority to allow two weddings – one in Harbour Island and the other in New Providence – to be held over the weekend with more than five guests despite the nationwide lockdown amidst a significant surge in coronavirus cases.
Videos and photos began to circulate yesterday of an American couple celebrating their wedding in a large gathering at the Coral Sands Hotel on Harbour Island, Eleuthera.
The video clips purported to show dozens of guests not wearing masks or social distancing.
There was also a live band performing at the event, along with a Junkanoo rush-out.
Some Junkanooers could be seen wearing masks under their chins, with others properly covering their mouths.
In one of the videos, the groom could be heard toasting invited guests: “…to we couldn’t have a wedding day, to we got it done. So thank you all so so much for all you went through and everything it took to get here because it means more than anything to the both of us”.
Shortly after 8pm, the Office of the Prime Minister released a statement advising that it was aware of the wedding videos.
“The Competent Authority granted permission for two pre-planned weddings with more than five in attendance to be held over the weekend lockdown, provided that proper COVID-19 mitigation protocols were adhered to,” the statement read.
“Permission was granted for a destination wedding on Harbour Island, Eleuthera and a Bahamian wedding in New Providence.
“The Competent Authority has asked the Royal Bahamas Police Force to investigate reports that proper COVID-19 protocols were not adhered to at the wedding held on Harbour Island.”
Bahamians quickly reacted to the videos with vitriol, castigating the couple and lamenting authorities for allowing the event to take place given the country’s rising COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, Minnis announced a range of restrictive measures, including a weekend lockdown, a nightly curfew, and the discontinuation of inter-island travel.
Minnis also announced the limiting of gatherings including funerals and weddings with a maximum of five people.
The orders that were released on Saturday morning indicated that a wedding that was prearranged for that day (July 25) or Sunday (July 26) may continue but with attendance limited to five people.
Deputy Chief Councillor Jay-Jay Percentie told Eyewitness News that the guests arrived on Thursday before the lockdown was announced.
He said the guests were encouraged not to continue with the wedding but decided against cancellation.
Percentie said some Bahamians who were hired to work the event, including wait staff and Junkanoo participants, opted not to take the job because of the risk and the fear that they would be breaking the law.
“The District Council was a little perturbed by it because it’s something that was not supposed to be happening under our watch,” he continued.
“And I know the locals are slightly outraged that some people were sort of coerced into doing this event and people going to the wedding.”
Seems like its one law for Bahamians n another for foreigners. Because it just dont add up. How did they know it would be a weekend lockdown during their ceremony in order to request permission in advance ?? This administration needs to stop with this nonsense.
The announcement for the lock down came around 12 noon Friday so it was ample time to request an exemption.
Exactly. We must realise that these people provide us with funds to buy bread and butter. We need them!!!
Agree it is sad to say that 2 different rules apply but the Bahamas needs these tourists and the govt whether PLP or FNM is in a very difficult situation when deciding what to do…
Ok I just what people are talking about but let’s be honest if it were your wedding day really would you just cancel this day the day you wed and the day you die are the only days you really share with the people you love so I feel all was needed was social distancing and masks remember it’s not how much people that are at and event but the safety measures b put it place
Guess private yachts and planes brought them in!!! That has to be banned also – immediately!!!
Every International traveller, whether they enter The Bahamas via a Commercial Flight or Private Jet/Yacht is subjected to the same protocols – that is – they must submit to the Health Authority for a Health visa and provide a Covid-19 negative test result. If that is successful they are given a Green Card to travel. On arrival in The Bahamas they have to go to a Government-provided Quarantine facility (at their own expense) and quarantine there for 14 days!! At the end of the 14 days you have to pay for another PCR-Test!! This is as per THE EMERGENCY POWERS (COVID 19 PANDEMIC) (No.2) Order, 2020 Section 26 VISITORS.
The Bahamas Government have made it almost impossible (and financially restrictive) to travel there, and as a Tourist who is trying to visit my wife in Nassau I am fully aware that I won’t get to see her for the forseeable future, so it begs the question, how did these people get to arrange a wedding with no doubt a few people, and not have to follow the protocols the rest of us have to follow? Or does money talk….?!
Neil UK… I’m afraid that you are incorrect in your assumption that visitors arriving in The Bahamas by private yacht (or private aircraft) are subject to Covid-19 testing. Section 26 Visitors : specifically addresses those arriving on international commercial air transport. It does not address those arriving via private yacht or private aircraft. Since such arrivals are not addressed; then they are exempted.
However the preceding Section 25 does specificly address Citizens and residents who are required to produce negative Covid-19 test results or be subject to quarantine.
There in lies the inequality of the Order as applied to the Citizens of The Bahamas vs the Visitors.
I hear you, Richard, but this exact question came up at one of the Press Conferences and the PM said that those arriving on Private Transport would be subject to the same protocols – even if it’s not written anywhere.
Ricardo (not Richard) – my apologies.
They had been on island for a month…. I mean come on.
Quick question- What exactly is a ‘government facility’ where they make you quarantine? What if you own a house there already? Can you quarantine there?