PM: Christmas gatherings could lead to “gift of COVID”

PM: Christmas gatherings could lead to “gift of COVID”
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis

Prime minister encourages Family Island travel over trips to the US

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As he discouraged gatherings during the Yuletide season, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said instead of giving Christmas gifts to friends and relatives at small family events, “you may possibly give them a gift of COVID, which can be extremely dangerous and detrimental”.

“I would like to remind all Bahamians that we are still experiencing, undergoing the pandemic, which is here today, COVID-19, and we must continue to adhere to the protocols as was established by the medical personnel,” Minnis said during the opening of Bahamas Mortgage Corporation’s new headquarters on East Hill Street.

“I wish to thank all of those Bahamians who have been participating and following the protocols.

“I also want to advise all Bahamians that next week is Thanksgiving and very soon is Christmas.

“We must not let our guard down.

“We must continue with social distancing and wearing of masks.

“We must follow the advice, even of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) from the United States of America, who has advised its citizens to minimize the participation in Thanksgiving dinner and they advise that they should participate only within their homes as opposed to traveling with others because this can assist in spreading the COVID disease.

“I advise Bahamians participating in Thanksgiving to do the same.

“They should participate in their own home environment as was said by the Centers for Disease Control and minimize their travels to partake with others.

“Rather than giving your friends, neighbors or colleagues a gift of Christmas, you may possibly give them a gift of COVID, which can be extremely dangerous and detrimental.”

The number of new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in The Bahamas fell 29 percent last week.

On New Providence, where the majority of the population resides, cases dropped 42 percent last week, the fifth consecutive week of declines.

Another 18 cases of the virus were confirmed on Sunday.

The positivity rate for the virus stood at just over eight percent, while recoveries stand at 76 percent.

The Bahamas had a full reopening of tourism on November 1.

Entry into the country under the new travel regime included an RT-PCR test no more than five days from the travel date, a travel health certificate and a follow-up antigen test on day five.

The 14-day quarantine was discontinued.

Yesterday, Minnis said Bahamians who have or plan to make travel arrangements to the United States should only do so for emergency and essential travel.

“The virus can be brought back to our shores and plus destroy our Christmas,” Minnis said.

“Not only that, but our hotels are about to open. The virus can commence a third surge within our Commonwealth and that third surge can be worse than the second surge and it may result in further stagnation of our economy; as our hotels, which are already making plans and preparations to open, and our young people, thousands of them, who are already making plans and preparation to commence employment, they too can be compromised in not being able to start their work.”

The prime minister said the advancement of vaccines is “light on the horizon”, but he said residents cannot afford to let their guards down.

“We must still practice the protocols that were established and await the vaccine as that would help to resolve a lot of problems that we see today,” he continued.

“But if you want a beautiful Christmas, then I would advise that you follow protocols and do not let our guards down, and minimize any travel that you have to our northern neighbors, but try to utilize our travels within The Bahamas.

“We have beautiful islands and it is only the guests, visitors and tourists who recognize the beauty of The Bahamas.

“Many want to come and I am certain that those in the Family Islands will welcome you.

“Many of our islands are COVID-free. Let us utilize the services there.”

Last week, the prime minister said the domestic travel visa was ready and a trial test run was being performed.

While the regime initially included inter-island travel, the protocol was discontinued and the quarantine requirement was reimplemented.

The prime minister has insisted that the protocol was not discriminatory towards Bahamians.