NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday slammed the latest amendments to the emergency powers orders as “confusing” and “frustrating” on the heels of near back-to-back changes to hotel dining permissions.
“The rash of rushed and half-baked emergency orders, followed by immediate changes and walk-backs in response to public backlash, continue to harm small businesses while confusing and frustrating residents and visitors alike,” the leader said in a statement.
Davis added: “These haphazard releases of amendments to the emergency orders reflect poorly on the government and does (sic) not promote or encourage public confidence in the leadership and competence of the prime minister, the competent authority.”
Changes to the emergency orders, signed by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis on December 25, mandated that individuals who were not currently guests of a hotel or “commercial accommodation” on New Providence or Abaco would be required to submit a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test to check-in as a guest or use any facility on the hotel premises, including restaurants.
The change — which Davis slammed as “bad news delivered by the prime minister on Christmas Day” — was announced as some hotels were allowing non-guests to dine at their restaurants following a negative rapid antigen test taken on the property.
Days later, on December 28, new orders were signed stipulating that individuals are not required to have a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test to utilize any outdoor facility on hotel premises, including restaurants, casinos, etc., provided that the person does not enter the hotel or commercial accommodation to access the facility.
The Ministry of Tourism also said in a statement issued that day that the purpose of the new order is to “safeguard the use of hotels by all persons and to mitigate any negative impact the coronavirus may have on this critical component of our tourism sector”.
However, Davis shot back, claiming the “actual effect of this order was to add to the cost of the dining experience with no provable or discernible benefit”.
Davis also claimed the order was reversed “under pressure from some hotel and restaurant owners and operators”.
“If this order had stood unchanged as broadly written, it would have damaged many small businesses,” Davis said.
He added: “The prime minister is simply struggling to get it right and with each successive debacle, the business community, residents and visitors alike have all had to pay a price and suffer needless inconvenience because of the prime minister’s incompetence.”
The Ministry of Tourism’s statement noted: “The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation would like to emphasize, once again, the need for every single Bahamian citizen and resident to do their part to keep community spread of this deadly virus to a minimum.
“It will be difficult, it will be hard; but, for the economic impact of tourism to be felt by as many Bahamians as possible, it will be necessary.”