14 new infections and one more death reported today
Grand Bahama lockdown extended for another week
Full lockdown for New Providence
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced a complete lockdown in New Providence and extended Grand Bahama’s lockdown for another week.
During a national address, the prime minister said the new measures will take effective immediately for seven days, including increased restrictions for international travel, among stricter enforcement measures.
The prime minister said New Providence and Grand Bahama are the islands in the “most grave of situations”.
He said the present lockdown restrictions will continue for a period of seven days commencing tomorrow in Grand Bahama and all current restrictions will continue to apply to other islands presently under the emergency orders.
He announced all public offices will be closed except for essential staff; and public officers must work remotely except those who have expressly been identified as essential workers.
All business and commercial activity with few exceptions will be closed and required to work remotely.
The only institutions allowed to operate amid the new lockdown, include hospitals; public healthcare and medical facilities; public pharmacies; private medical facilities for emergencies only; the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) and its agencies; the police force, the defense force, customs and immigration; correctional services; waste disposal and sanitization; civil aviation; utility corporations with restrictions; and the government’s National Food Distribution Task Force.
According to the prime minister, hotels will be permitted to operate with essential staff once the names of the employees are submitted to police.
He also advised the media will be allowed to operate, but must contact police when required to attend matters for coverage.
Construction will be allowed to continue, Minnis announced.
Personnel of financial institutions required to carry out urgent transactions may contact 311 for permission to travel to and from their offices.
International shipping and domestic freight suppliers will be permitted to continue operations, however goods and supplies must to be stored during the period.
Businesses requiring items must seek permission.
According to Minnis, the food task force will continue its distribution program on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays as previously scheduled.
He asked the public to contact their respective zone leaders, and for one representative per household to visit the distribution centers once they have contacted police for approval to leave their homes.
He thanked the food wholesalers and retailers for their continued support and discounts to facilitate the program.
He said individuals who tend to farm or farm animals will also be permitted to do so, once they contact police via 311 for approval when seeking to tend to their farms.
Subsistence and commercial fishing will also be discontinued during the lockdown.
Graveside funerals previously planned may continue, according to the prime minister.
However, weddings will be prohibited.
As it relates to churches, the prime minister said they may continue to live stream from premises on Saturdays and Sunday with a maximum of 10 persons in the church.
However, he advised these individuals will also be required to contact the police force before departing their homes.
Individuals will be permitted to exercise in their neighborhoods between 5am and 8am, and in their yards at anytime.
Diplomatic missions and offices will continue to remain open, but students requiring visas or nationals of the respective countries will be required to contact authorities.
Minnis said the police force will check all motorists, including all government red-plated vehicles to determine whether they have received proper approval from the police force.
He said: “If an individual does not have a valid reason or approval to be on the streets, they will be fined.”
Tighter travel restrictions
The prime minister said no international flights or vessels will be permitted to enter New Providence unless in exceptional circumstances and must be granted permission by either civil aviation officials or the maritime authority.
However, international carriers will be permitted to depart from New Providence.
He said there will be a “tightening’ of the requirements to enter the country, announcing that a negative PCR COVID-19 test must now obtained within five days of travel instead of seven.
Domestic travel between New Providence and other Family Islands will be discontinued immediately, except in cases of emergency or for freight.
Minnis said the lockdown will allow health officials to monitor and evaluate the spread of the virus.
He acknowledged the sacrifice being asked of Bahamians, but said “it will assist in slowing spreading of COVID-19 and getting our life and economy back to normal”.
Minnis promised to report to the public again on the imposition of the lockdown as soon as possible.
He said a variety of strategies were being used to curb the spread of the virus, including curfew and lockdowns, contact tracing, testing, and allowing low-risk commercial activities.
He said these measures have been recommended by global health officials and have been used the world over.
Today, there were 14 additional confirmed cases — all in New Providence pushing the total to 1,329.
There have been 731 confirmed cases in New Providence, 461 in Grand Bahama, 45 in Bimini, inclusive of Cat Cay, 44 in Abaco, 14 in the Berry Islands, eight on Cat Island, five on Exuma, one in Eluethera, two in Inagua, one in Andros, and 17 cases pending locations.
A total of 1,116 cases were active.
There were 191 recovered cases and 32 hospitalized.
The Ministry of Health reported an additional death, a 74-year-old woman from New Providence.
Minnis again offered condolences to the families that have lost loved ones.
He said the second wave of cases has placed an “exceptional strain” on the healthcare system, and aggressive measures are needed to avoid its collapse.
He said health officials will make a determination following the lockdown to determine if an extension is necessary.
He maintained the measures undertaken serve to save lives amid the health crisis.
Islands that have no lockdowns or curfews in place include, Mayaguana, Inagua, Chub Cay, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Long Island, Rum Island and Ragged Island. Minnis said these islands either had no confirmed or suspected cases or had no “heightened risk when considered cumulatively”.