NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has moved the country into ‘Phase 3’ of its plan to re-open the economy, reducing curfew hours and relaxing restrictions on several sectors.
The 24-hour curfew will be lifted effective next Tuesday across the country, allowing free roam for residents between 5am and 9pm. However, weekend lockdown will continue on Fridays at 9pm to Mondays at 5am.
During the lockdown, residents may exercise in their immediate neighborhood between 5am and 9pm.
This upcoming weekend will include the Whit Monday holiday and the Labour Day Holiday.
In ‘Phase 3’, non-essential storefront business operations with essential staff may reopen, though they must post protocols and train their employees as to those protocols.
Stores must limit the number of customers based in stores and manage lines outside of storefronts with markers and security staff.
Minnis said churches will be allowed to resume in-sanctuary services on Saturdays and Sundays on June 6.
According to the government’s phased plan, education operations, including national examination based on appropriate social distancing and masks.
The prime minister said he expects the education minister to make an announcement concerning the BGCSE examinations so as not to disadvantage students.
Law firms, justice of the peace and real estate agencies, financial services, including accounting services may operate between 9am and 5pm.
Retailers, including suppliers of cleaning mechanicals, fabric stores, auto part stores and mechanics, may operate between 7am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday.
Effective June 2, public beaches and parks will be opened on all islands except Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, Harbour Island, New Providence, Paradise Island and San Salvador.
At that time, commencement of graduation ceremonies, funerals and weddings, in groups of no more than 30, can be convened with the approval of the competent authority.
Minnis said the public must act responsibly and continue to follow the advise and recommendations from health professionals.
International travel remains restricted to nationals returning home with strict protocols, he said.
He said: “If we don’t, again unnecessary lives will be lost.”
Minnis said without moving into the new norm, the “entire economy can be destroyed and rather that losing a few jobs, we can lose all”
“We are living in a new normal in which we must continue to practice.”
He said before relaxing measures further, a risk assessment must be performed to explore the risk of opening of further; the ability of the public healthcare system to rapidly detect a resurgence of cases and absorb the load, as well as its ability provide medical care.
The prime minister said social distancing and hygiene measures undertaken in The Bahamas has not only limited the spread, but “saved lives”.
As of today, there were 100 confirmed cases of the virus, of which 43 were active.
There have been 78 cases in New Providence, 13 in Bimini, eight in Grand Bahama, and one in Cat Cay. The last confirmed case was on May 23. Six patients remain hospitalized.
The rate of cases demonstrates a flattening of the curve. There remain no specific therapeutics or vaccines for the virus.
He said as the country moves to reopen domestically and internationally, the public must remember the pandemic is ongoing, and all precautionary measures must be taken.
He said those who feel ill, must follow protocols to seek medical attention and call in advance of visiting a healthcare facility.
He said a mask must be worn, and residents should continue to reframe from handshaking and touching their faces.